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Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, South Carolina

Savannah and Charleston are wonderful places to visit, but I always need a nature break. I got that by visiting Pinckney Island, part of a chain of wildlife refuges that lie under the Atlantic Flyway. (The Atlantic Flyway is a migratory bird path that stretches from Greenland to South America via the eastern coast of Canada and the Atlantic coast of the United States.) Pinckney Island is located just before the entrance to Hilton Head and is less than an hour’s drive from Savannah, GA.

Screenshot courtesy of Google Maps.

Things To Do On Pinckney Island

Pinckney Island is only open for day visitors, which is good because otherwise it would probably get trashed. Cars are not allowed beyond the initial parking lot, but visitors can hike or bike over 14 miles of trails (you must bring your own bike). It’s a terrific place for bird watching and photography.

For such a small island (1200 acres), Pinckney Island has a lot of varied terrain. According to their website the island contains salt marsh, forestland, brushland, fallow fields, and freshwater ponds.

Great Egret rookery at Ibis Pond.

My husband and I noticed how different the terrain was on our short 3-mile walk. We also saw a lot of wildlife. There are alligators, but unfortunately we didn’t see any. However, we did see an armadillo–quite a treat for this California couple!

A foraging armadillo.

Photos of Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

I loved Pinckney Island. Here are some photos so you can be tempted to visit there too. Please note that they are only cell-phone pics and don’t do the wildlife justice. If you are into photography, I definitely recommend bringing a good camera and tripod.

Picnic Tables on the Ibis Pond Loop Trail.
A butterfly garden near Ibis Pond.
Monarch Butterfly.
Painted Lady butterfly.
Looking toward Starr Pond.
I don’t remember where this is on the island, sorry!
A White Ibis.

A Short Film of Pinckney Island Wildlife


If You Go

I recommend bringing good binoculars. Also – and this is important – there are no restrooms and no drinking water. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat–there isn’t much shade.  For the safety of the wildlife and your dog: no dogs allowed. Please visit their website for more information.


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