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The Charlotte Observer: Edisto Beach State Park

Mark Alan Hudson, Correspondent

South Carolina has some of the country’s prettiest coastline and four of its state parks with oceanfront access. Just 50 miles south of Charleston you’ll find Edisto Beach State Park, on Edisto Island and just a stone’s throw from the Lowcountry town of Edisto.

This park, created during the 1930s, has a history dating back more than 4,000 years.

While the history is interesting, nature is the real draw here – especially for families. The park has an impressive array of camping sites in oceanfront and maritime forest areas and most can accommodate RVs, some up to 40 feet. (Reservations strongly encouraged: 866-345-7275 FREE). There are also some cabins you might consider.

Park Superintendent John Grider points up the programs offered there; many during summer months are geared to kids, and most are free or have nominal costs.

This is a water-oriented park that has both ocean and tidal/estuary areas. Fishing, shrimping and crabbing are popular (S.C. licenses required). If you have a kayak or other boat, there is a ramp in the park – but be mindful of the tides.

The park’s 11/4-mile oceanfront is perfect for swimmers and beachcombers.

When you’ve had enough sun, retreat to one of the park’s trails. There are several to choose from and they are open to both hikers and bicyclists. Edisto Beach’s trail system is state’s longest that’s handicapped-friendly.

On the Spanish Mount Trail you’ll find a 4,000 year-old midden (refuse heap) made by early Native Americans.

There are a wide variety of bird species to be found both in the maritime forests and marshes as well as the shoreline. You may even catch sight of an alligator here and there. The beach is also noted as a loggerhead turtle nesting site.

Sea, sun, sand … and much more await at Edisto Beach State Park. It is truly a family-friendly place. But trust me on this: Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen.

Admission: $5; $3 for ages 6-15. Details, including camping fees: www.southcarolinaparks.com.

If you’re hungry/thirsty …

Two Edisto restaurants with vistas are Pressley’s, at the marina and offering great views of Big Bay Creek (www.pressleysatthemarina.com) and Finn’s Island Grill, on the oceanfront (look for its page at www.facebook.com). Both serve a wide variety of seafood for lunch and dinner. As with all the restaurants on Edisto Island, dining is very casual.

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