A unique destination that is fun to explore just a half mile west of Hilton Head is the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, a beautiful 4,053 acre refuge that includes Pinckney Island, Corn Island, Big and Little Harry Islands, and Buzzard Island. Pinckney Island is the largest of the islands and the only one available for public use, making it the perfect place to enjoy spectacular scenery, recreational opportunities, and wildlife viewing! Here are the top 4 reasons to visit the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge during your vacation to Hilton Head:
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heron standing in a marsh

1. Excellent Wildlife Viewing Opportunities

One of the top reasons to visit the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is to take advantage of the excellent wildlife viewing opportunities! If you enjoy birdwatching, you will be excited to know that the refuge contains more than 250 species of birds. One of the most popular and colorful birds is the painted bunting, which can often be seen during the summer months. You may also spot a variety of raptors, shorebirds, and wading birds who live in the refuge all year long. Other wildlife in the refuge includes bobcats, red fox, and white-tailed deer, as well as an abundance of American alligators who are normally seen in and around the freshwater ponds.
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2. Scenic Hiking and Biking Trails

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge has more than 14 miles of scenic hiking and biking trails for you to explore! The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset daily, so start your morning with a hike or enjoy a pleasant afternoon bike ride. Trail guides are available at the trailhead adjacent to the parking area so you can plan your day accordingly. Keep in mind that the main trail that runs through the refuge is gravel, while all the other trails are wide grass paths that are maintained throughout the year. pinckney island national wildlife refuge

3. Fascinating Educational Information

While you are visiting the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, you can learn about the history and current management of the refuge through self-guided interpretive exhibits located along the main trail and in the parking area. One interesting fact is that the refuge was once included in the plantation of Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a prominent lawyer who was active in South Carolina politics from 1801 to 1815. Pinckney Island was privately owned and managed as a game preserve from 1937 until 1975, when it was donated to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
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4. Unique Photo Opportunities

Whether you are an amateur or professional photographer, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge offers some wonderful and unique photo opportunities! In fact, wildlife photography has likely been the fastest growing activity on National Wildlife Refuges in the past 10 years. You don’t need any fancy equipment or experience to take some fantastic photos, so a small camera or cell phone works just fine! One of the best places to hike or bike for photos is the 2 mile roundtrip to Ibis Pond where you can find everything from shorebirds feeding in salt flats to wading birds roosting in the Ibis Pond rookery. Now since you know why you need to visit Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, check out all of our vacation rentals in Hilton Head SC today to plan your vacation!