Penn Center Nature

Trail Activities: t

  • Walk


1.0 mile





Difficulty: Easy

Trail Features: t

  • Parking
  • Visitor Center
  • Information Sign
  • No Fee
  • No Camping


Penn Center, with its 16 historic buildings—all registered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation—sits quietly on a rural side street on St. Helena Island. There is an easy, one-mile loop trail located here that serves as an outdoor classroom. 

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This easy, one-mile loop begins at the edge of the Penn Center visitor parking area and circles the center, and serves as an outdoor classroom, teaching everything from history to biology. The Penn Center was started in 1862 after the Emancipation Proclamation enabled the newly freed southern slaves to pursue education. You will walk on an unpaved and sandy path that passes by several of the original campus buildings including Darrah Hall (1882), the oldest of those remaining. A brochure is available, which will introduce you to many of the low country's signature hardwood trees: live oak, water oak, eastern red cedar, black walnut, pecan, hickory, and magnolia. Bug repellent is advised during the warmer seasons as ticks and southern "red bugs" or "chiggers" are common.

Hours: Dawn to dusk


From Beaufort: Drive east on US 21 to St. Helena Island. Turn right onto Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (Beaufort County S-45) and drive 0.5 mile to the Penn Center.

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Penn Center, Inc. | 16 Penn Center Circle West, St. Helena Island, SC 29920 | (843) 838-2432

Download Coordinates
KML file Trail Segments (Paths)
Trail Features (Points of Interest)
Lat: 32.38841365869479
Long: -80.57905888920698