Sunday, February 12, 2012

Walking the Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail at Huntington Beach State Park, SC

With so much to see and do at Huntington Beach State Park you may miss one of its most interesting features: the Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail. Click here for a nice description and map [click the link] provided by South Carolina State Trails. It’s only a mile one way, with easy pick-up points at either end if you’re not up to a round trip.

But within that mile you’re going to see all sorts of coastal habitat. If you’ve one or more of the trails at Hunting Island, note the difference a few miles up the coast makes in the maritime forest. As Ranger Mike Walker explained, Hunting Island’s barrier island is sub-tropical. Huntington Beach isn’t.

Mike also mentioned the effect Hurricane Hugo had on this part of the South Carolina coast when it hit in September of 1989. Lots of sand tossed around. Several feet in some areas. 

Enough to bury live oak trees, leaving only their topmost branches sticking out of the ground. These trees are real survivors.

This helps to account for some of the unusual shapes you’ll see along your walk.

Before long you’ll catch sight of the pond for which this trail is named. With paths running down to the shore here and there. Walk down to have a look. But really, this shallow brackish pond is more interesting from afar than up close. At least to me.

That’s probably why the Park Service has constructed raised viewing platforms here and there. Like this one.

You can climb the steps for a better view of the pond, or just walk on.

I saw little wildlife along the trail this time. Maybe because I was making so much noise. It didn’t deter one enormous squirrel, though. Must have been a fox squirrel. Biggest I’ve ever seen. And plenty of evidence of deer. See some of the tracks with a click on the photo above. 

But the main attraction, at least for me, was the remarkably diverse foliage. Different from anything I’ve seen so far in South Carolina. Even different from that found at Hunting Island, another popular State park.

So, when your travels take you to Huntington Beach State Park be sure to save a few hours for a walk along the Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail. It won’t be time wasted.

Huntington Beach State Park, SC Scenes

Here are a few more scenes from this beautiful Park. Just click the Picasa slideshow above.

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