This article is written and contributed by Sparefoot.com.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is an amazing place. In the same afternoon you could walk down the busy boardwalk, surrounded by the lights and hub-hub of the bustling beach town, and then later hike through serene marshlands, surrounded only by the sounds of the wind and birdcalls. Myrtle Beach is so much more than a “fun in the sun” beach vacation spot, it is also a place for nature lovers of all kinds. Whether you’re into hiking, paddling, biking, fishing, hunting or bird-watching, there is something for you near Myrtle Beach.
1. Huntington Beach State Park
Less than 30 minutes down the coast from Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet, Huntington Beach State Park is a 2500-acre South Carolina landmark. Fishers will be wowed by some of the best surf fishing in the area, while birders will love spotting some of the over 300 species of birds found in the park. For hikers and bikers, the park features three-miles of pristine beach, as well as another almost three-miles of trails, including the Kerrigan Nature Trail, which extends onto a freshwater lagoon that is home to many animals, including alligators. The park has camping and picnic facilities, and offers tours of Atalaya, the National Historic Landmark winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Park naturalists hold a variety of educational programs throughout the year.
2. Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge
Just north of Myrtle Beach, is a 22,000+ acre wildlife refuge managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Both the Great Pee Dee River and the Waccama River run through the refuge, so possibly the best way to see the expansive park is from the water. Hikers can traverse three trails, including a boardwalk that crosses a flooded cypress swamp. Fishers can troll for bass, catfish, sunfish and more in the freshwater estuary of the refuge. Hunting for animals such as white-tailed deer, feral hog, waterfowl and more is allowed on the refuge with permits during the state hunting seasons. The visitor center has an environmental education center that teaches about reptiles, invasive species, freshwater ecology, water quality and more, through hands-on learning, outdoor classrooms, indoor educational programs and interpretive exhibits.
3. Myrtle Beach State Park
Hidden by its rare maritime forest, Myrtle Beach State Park offers a natural sanctuary just minutes away from the center of activity in Myrtle Beach. The park includes one mile of undeveloped beach and a fishing pier where visitors can fish for flounder, king mackerel and more. Hiking and biking are permitted on the 0.5 mile Sculptured Oak Trail, or the 0.4 mile Yaupon Trail. Birders can hope to spot sandpipers, pelicans, woodpeckers, osprey and more. Facilities include cabins, campsites, gift shops, picnic shelters, playgrounds and a nature center. The park provides an almost daily schedule of programs and events from beach yoga to painting with natural objects to educational talks on sea life.
4. Heritage Shores Nature Preserve
Located in North Myrtle Beach, about 30 minutes north of Myrtle Beach, Heritage Shores Nature Preserve is part of an island that is surrounded by the Cherry Grove Marsh and House Creek. Cherry Grove is a popular saltwater marsh for kayakers, who love to explore the hidden creeks, oyster beds and hope to glimpse bottle nosed dolphins who come to the area to look for fish. The Preserve has seven acres of walking paths and elevated boardwalks that allow the flora and fauna to remain in their natural state. Along the paths and two observations decks– one in the center of the island looking over an interior lake and the other on House Creek– there are 40 interpretive signs describing the plants, trees, fish, birds and animals that live in the park. Bird watchers can often spy blue heron, brown pelicans and more.
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