Welcome to Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests

Francis Marion and Sumter employees conduct prescribed fires on National Forest land

At one point in Forest Service history, wildfire was seen as something to be suppressed at all costs. In doing so, decades of fuel that might have been burned away in a low-severity fire was allowed to accumulate to the point where the damage from a wildfire fed by decades of fuel buildup far outpaced any damage a low-severity fire could have done, as was seen in 1988 at Yellowstone National Park or in more recent years across the Western United States. By using prescribed burns on a regular basis, about every two to five years for the forests here in the Southeastern United States, the Forest Service can prevent buildup of fuel that can feed destructive wildfires.

Reducing fuel buildup is critical for the safety of people living near the forest. As urban areas expand outward, more and more people live adjacent to forest lands, in what is called the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). The WUI faces elevated threats from uncontrolled fires feeding on accumulated fuels. Fires igniting in areas with heavy fuel loads are difficult to suppress and burn with increased intensity and severity, putting life, property, and infrastructure in danger. The Highway 31 fire in 2009, for example, started as a two-acre wildfire near a residential area before growing to burn over 19,000 acres, and destroying 76 structures in the process. Prescribed fires reduce accumulated fuel loads and lower wildfire risks for local communities.

Much of the burning done on the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests happens in the WUI and is done to help protect local communities from catastrophic wildfire. Fire crews on the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests have been able to navigate the challenges of conducting prescribed burns while managing for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic to burn 74,622 acres of National Forest land during 2021.

Getting to Know Your Forest

Four ranger districts in South Carolina: the Andrew Pickens, the Enoree and the Long Cane districts on the Sumter National Forest; and the Francis Marion District on the Francis Marion National Forest offer recreational activities as diverse as their terrain--whether you prefer to hike to a mountain waterfall or paddle a lowcountry swamp wilderness.

You might mountain bike the epic Forks Area Trail System on the Long Cane, or paddle and fish the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River on the Andrew Pickens district. Saddle up and explore a horse trail on any district, or unload your ATV or dirt bike and hone your skills on one of four OHV trails.

Map of districts

The Intracoastal Waterway begs to be explored from Buck Hall boat launch on the Francis Marion, or perhaps you’d prefer to paddle, hunt or fish the three rivers on the Enoree Ranger District. Nine rifle ranges will help maintain your aim for hunting season. There are hiking trails, campgrounds and picnic areas, a human-made shell ring built 4,000 years ago, fishing rodeos and waterfowl hunts for youths and disabled visitors, and an environmental education center that sponsors monthly programs for kids and adults to share the wonders of both the national forest and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Where would you like to go first? Click on the map above to locate the district you'd like to visit. Or click on any of the headings in the column to the left for drop-down menus and links to more detail about recreation opportunities, maps, resource management, volunteering and much more!

The Forest Service now offers a free Interactive Visitor Map and downloadable app for all of our forests! Just zoom in over South Carolina at: https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm/index.html

Recent News


Reptile and amphibian diversity on the Francis Marion National Forest

We hope you will enjoy this PowerPoint presentation of pictures of reptiles as presented by Wildlife Biologist Jestin Clark.  He spoke about several 2,600 reptiles living in over six ecosystems on the Francis Marion National Forest. 

Regional Grants Calendar available for the public and partners to find funding

The Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service has developed a Regional Grants Calendar, which will provide the public and partners access to funding opportunities they might otherwise not be able to access from online searches.

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Francis Marion National Forest

Woodpecker/Martjan Lammertink photo

The Francis Marion is a forest literally steeped in history...

Sumter National Forest

Chattooga River

If it's a sense of adventure or a longing for solitude that you seek, the Sumter National Forest has something special waiting for you.


Huge bear seen on trail cam in northwestern South Carolina

Check out "Bear Awareness" safety tips when camping and recreating on national forests or public lands. Being prepared will make your trip more relaxing and enjoyable.

2021 Regional Forester's Honor Awards

2021 Regional Forester's Honor Awards Link opens in a new window

Know Before You Go

Know Before You Go

Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities- Youth Conservation Poster Contest

2020-2021 Youth Conservation Poster Contest Results for Richland County Link opens in a new window

The US Forest Service is hiring for positions all across the United States

Now hiring! Employment opportunities with the US Forest Service Link opens in a new window