National Recreation Trail

Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest

(Dorchester County)


From the National Audubon Society Visitor’s Center, you will walk on a 1.7-mile boardwalk through this 40,000 acre, awe-inspiring swamp where a 1500-year-old bald cypress tree appears like a mammoth in this old growth preserve. Nesting great blue herons, alligators, snakes, and an amazing variety of plants and wildlife can be viewed with dry feet from a comfortable distance. A numbered guide to the trail highlights the many features of the pristine wetland as you follow the boardwalk to Goodsen Lake. Visitors stare quietly, hoping to glimpse an alligator as huge fish splash in the water, and bubbles emerge from an unidentified source. Depending on the weather and the water level, this trail offers hours of nature watching. Bring your binoculars and a camera and plan to take your time. Early in the day there are fewer visitors and wildlife sighting is at its best. Naturalist-guided Boardwalk Tours, Canoe and Kayak Tours, and Night Walks are available by reservation. Check for special events like October's "Boo in the Swamp."

Length: 1.7 mile loop

Fees: Adults - $8, Audubon Members and Seniors (65) - $7, Children 6 to 12 - $4 and free for children under 6.

Directions: From the intersection of I-26 and I-95, drive southeast on I-26 to Exit 177 and turn right toward Harleyville on Judge St. (SC 453). At US 178 turn left, drive through Harleyville, and at approximately 7.0 miles turn left onto Beidler Forest Rd. (S-18-28). Drive approximately 4.0 miles and continue straight on Mims Rd. The entrance is 1.0 mile on the right.

From Charleston, drive west on I-26 to Exit 187, turn left (south) onto SC 27, then right onto US 78. At the fork bear right onto US 178 for .8 mile, then turn right onto Beidler Forest Road (Dorchester County S-18-28). Drive approximately 4.0 miles and continue straight on Mims Rd. The entrance is 1.0 mile on the right.  

Hours: 9 AM. to 5 PM Tuesday through Sunday. Closed on most major holidays.

Camping: No camping at Francis Beidler Forest, although there are sites at Givhans Ferry State Park.

Information: Contact Francis Beidler Forest, 336 Sanctuary Road, Harleyville, SC 29448, Telephone: 843-462-2150.

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 South Carolina State Trails Program
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Updated: June 26, 2006
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