Whether you’re new to hiking with toddlers and young children or you’re looking for a different trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three kid-friendly hikes in South Carolina to explore with babies and young children.
Hunting Island Loop (Hunting Island State Park, S.C.)
Hunting Island State Park is one of South Carolina’s most popular parks with towering palms and gnarled live oaks dripping in Spanish moss. For the best views, take the mostly shaded 4.5-mile loop from the Hunting Island Nature Center, which is accessible by bikes and jogging strollers with no elevation changes. To reach the incredible shoreline covered in driftwood, take the Nature Center Scenic Trail, which is .7-mile long. This section of the trail follows the lagoon for 1.4 miles. The wide dirt path is easy to navigate with a stroller, and along the way, you’ll see a huge variety of shorebirds in a saltwater lagoon to your right (and maybe some other wildlife if you’re lucky!).
- Be sure to check out the Nature Center before you leave. There are aquariums filled with snakes, turtles and lizards, and you can find all sorts of interesting information there about the park and local wildlife.
- If you want to do a shorter loop, take any of the two left turns you see before you reach the end of the Lagoon trail. If you take the first shortcut, the Maritime Connector Trail, your total hike distance will be about 2.4 miles. The second shortcut, the Palmetto Pines Pass, will give you a total distance of about 3.5 miles.
- There is lodging and camping available if you want to stay longer, as well as programs and activities for the entire family.
Photo courtesy of Kristin Hinnant.
Audubon Francis Beidler Forest (Harleyville, S.C.)
Imagine hiking through an ancient forest and a cypress swamp surrounded by thousand-year-old trees. In Harleyville, SC, you can do just that in Audubon Francis Beidler Forest. Take a stroll through this enchanted forest preserved by the Audubon Society. The forest attracts photographers and nature lovers from all over the world because of its unsurpassed wildlife beauty.
There are trail loops that take you through a cypress swamp that are not usually accessible by foot. It is a 1.75-mile boardwalk with railings, making it easy for you to keep tabs on multiple children. It is also ADA-accessible and kid-friendly, which is great for a stroller and wheelchair.
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday (closed Monday) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There is an admission fee.
- Take note that pets are not allowed on the trails.
- The 18,000-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary is great for bird-watching and has been named one of the top 10 bird-watching hot spots.
- There are a lot of bugs and it is very humid in the summer, so bring bug spray for your little ones.
Photo courtesy of Nicholl Summers.
Sulphur Springs Trail to Mountain Lake, Paris Mountain State Park (Greenville, S.C.)
The entire Sulphur Springs Trail is a 3.6-mile loop. The trail has a variety of terrain, but offers a more flat surface toward Mountain Lake and begins to level out near the shores of the lake. This area is relatively flat and easy for little ones. Start at the trailhead and hike clockwise around the loop until you reach the lake. You can turn back around and return the same way you came. This part of the trail is roughly 1.8 miles. And if you have older children with you who are more adventurous and fit, part of the trail is strenuous, narrow, steep and rocky and has big boulders they can climb on. However, in this section of the trail, you may want to keep your little one in a carrier.
- Admission: $5; $3.25 (65 and older); $3/child (6-15); Free (5 and younger). Admission includes the swimming area when open.
- This map may come in handy before you hike as it details the trail difficulty levels.
Photo courtesy of Anna Bargeron.
More Resources for Families with Young Children
South Carolina offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- South Carolina State Parks
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
- 3 Unforgettable Hikes in Georgia for Young Children
- 3 Beautiful Hikes in Ohio for Young Children
- First Time Hiking with Kids? Helpful Tips to Get Out on Trail
What are your favorite hikes in South Carolina for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!
Written by Kristin Hinnant and Rebecca Her. Trail reviews contributed by Nicholl Summers and Stephanie Francis.