Special Places

The Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests have many "special places" for forest vistors to enjoy. Some of them are highlighted below.

Yellow Branch Waterfall

Yellow Branch FallsPhoto Courtesy: Mark Oleg

The Yellow Branch waterfall is one of several waterfalls located on the Andrew Pickens Ranger District. The falls can look different every time you visit, especially if there hasn’t been much precipitation. Put Yellow Branch Falls on your list of “Special Places” to see when you’re in the state or area.

Highlighted Areas

Buck Hall Recreation Area

This premier recreation area is situated on the site of the old Buck Hall plantation just six miles southeast of McClellanville. Its location on the Intracoastal Waterway provides the best access to Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, 65,000 acres of marsh, tidal creeks and beaches and Bulls Bay, the best area for shrimp baiting on the coast.

Click here for a printable guide and vicinity map.

Ellicott Rock Wilderness

Ellicott Rock Wilderness sits at the southern tip of the hazy Blue Ridge Mountains. Congress designated Ellicott Rock Wilderness in 1975, later expanding it in 1984. The wilderness spans three states in Sumter, Nantahala, and Chattahoochee National Forests of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia respectively. The wilderness provides visitors with bountiful opportunities to experience solitude and see an impressive array of plan and animal communities while hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, swimming, or kayaking.

History and background of the Ellicott Rock Wilderness

The 7 principles of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics apply to this area.

Terrestrial Trails in Ellicott Rock Wilderness.


For questions about or recommendations for planning your next visit to the Ellicott Rock Wilderness, you will need to contact one of the managing offices listed below by phone or email.

Andrew Pickens Ranger District (Lead)

112 Andrew Pickens Circle
Mountain Rest, SC, 29664
Phone: 864-638-9568
Office hours: 8 AM - 4:30 PM

Chattooga River Ranger District

9975 US-441
Lakemont, GA, 30552
Phone: 706-754-6221

Nantahala Ranger District

90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC, 28734
Phone: 828-524-6441

I'on Swamp Interpretive Trail

A fascinating walk through a wetland world, this historic, self-guided, interpretive trail traverses embankments built as far back as the 1700s. The embankments and ditches were built to create a patchwork of fields for rice production during the lucrative rice era of the low country.

Click here for a printable guide and vicinity map.

Carolina Bays

Carolina Bays have been a source of fascination for visitors to the low country of South Carolina since the time of their discovery. They are fragile and unique ecosystems, wetland habitats that exhibit a variety of vegetative components. Some bays are open-water depressions dotted with pond cypress trees and rimmed by pitcher plants and sundew. Other bays are thick pocosins of shrubby sweetbay, fetterbush and pond pines. They can be one acre or thousands of acres.

Click here for a printable guide and vicinity map.

Sewee Shell Ring Boardwalk

The mystique surrounding the area emcompassed by this one-mile, self-guided, interpretive trail dates back 4,000 years. The trail begins along a shady lane of trees which opens into an area heavily influenced by the forces of nature and man. A large portion of the area was scarred by Hurricane Hugo and wildfire. It is a picture of a land in recovery.

The boardwalk overlooks a prehistoric shell mound and offers five interpretive stops in addition to breathtaking views of the salt marsh, tidal creek and the Intracoastal Waterway. Take an aerial look over the boardwalk and the surrounding area.

Click here for a printable guide and vicinity map.

Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center

The Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center offers a variety of programs designed to introduce visitors to the unique heritage and natural history of South Carolina's lowcountry, Francis Marion National Forest, and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Jointly operated by the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, this 9,000 square foot facility features hands-on interpretive displays exploring the unique and valuable ecosystems of the forest and refuge, including discussions and feedings of its two resident red wolves.  Don't miss it! Plan a stop along your way to tap the knowledge of the staff on the many recreational opportunities available on the Francis Marion National Forest and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Sewee Center's schedule of events changes monthly... For the latest line-up of free events and classes, visit the Event Calendar at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge | Events | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov).

Caretaker "Wolfman" Rob conducts red wolf feedings and interpretive talks on Saturdays at 11:30 AM and Thursdays at 3:00 PM.

Click here for a printable guide and vicinity map.

Hellhole Bay Wilderness

Hellhole Bay Wilderness (2,125 ac) may take its name from a large forest opening possibly formed by early wildfire behavior in the area. A shallow canoe trail a little over a mile long and often less than a foot deep crosses the bay and is passable during the wetter times of the year. But in dryer months it becomes a muddy trail and can be difficult to hike. Heavy thick undergrowth, wet unstable ground and numerous water moccasins add to the challenges. There is no boat ramp but paddlers can access wilderness from Hell Hole Rd. 

Explore this wilderness in winter and early spring to avoid biting insects and water moccasins. Take a compass and a good map, it is easy to get disoriented navigating the swamp.

Little Wambaw Swamp Wilderness

Little Wambaw Swamp Wilderness (5,047 ac) features wild orchids, pickerel weed and bladderwort as part of its dense understory. Impressively large bald cypress and water tupelo trees grow throughout, some in areas believed to be virgin timber. The remains of raised railroad tram lines cross the area and may provide slightly higher ground for camping, but wading in the sloughs and bottomland hardwood forest is a necessity to explore the wilderness. There are no trails, and some areas are thick with undergrowth in the cypress/tupelo swamp. However there are beautiful areas of mature bottomland hardwoods comprised of oaks, hickories, sycamores and maples that are well worth experiencing. As with all lowcountry wildernesses, it is best to explore in winter and early spring. Access the area at the perimeter using FS roads 220A, 217A and B.


Recreation Areas