Warning: Illegal string offset 'ssb_og_tags' in /home/scpictur/public_html/wp-content/plugins/simple-social-buttons/simple-social-buttons.php on line 1466
Our Photographers Contact Us
Our Patrons Please Give Today Add Images Add History Our Work South Carolina Picture Project

Francis Marion National Forest — Awendaw, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County  |  Francis Marion National Forest

Adopt A South Carolina Landmark
Francis Marion National Forest

The Francis Marion National Forest is a federally-managed natural area spreading across large swaths of both Charleston County and Berkeley County. In fact, the forest encompasses several entire towns – including Awendaw, Huger, Jamestown and McClellanville. Spanning just under 259,000 acres, the forest provides protection for threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species such as the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

Francis Marion National Forest

AG Technology Solutions/Shutterstock © No Reproduction Permitted

The forest is named for renowned South Carolina Revolutionary War hero, General Francis Marion, also known as the Swamp Fox. General Marion and his men moved through local swamps and woods, executing surprise attacks on British soldiers who were accustomed only to conventional battle. Marion learned guerrilla warfare by observing the fighting tactics of Native Americans.

Francis Marion National Forest

AG Technology Solutions/Shutterstock © No Reproduction Permitted

The Sewee Indians occupied this area during the 1600s and left behind a wealth of artifacts. According to Tim Penninger, an Awendaw historian and author, the tribe met the English settlers when they arrived at Bulls Bay in 1670. The natives welcomed the newcomers by placing them on their shoulders and carrying them off to a great feast. The tribe and settlers lived in harmony for many years, trading furs and supplies. However, by 1715 the Sewees decided they were no longer being treated fairly by the English. They banded with neighboring tribes in the Yemassee War.

Francis Marion National Forest

ryanvm/Shutterstock © No Reproduction Permitted

Perhaps the most significant remnant of the Sewee tribe is the Sewee shell mound in Awendaw. Comprised primarily of discarded oyster shells, it rises 10 feet above the surrounding substrate and covers roughly 225 feet. The shell mound, or shell ring as it is sometimes called, is estimated to be 4,000 years old and was used by Native Americans who lived along the Intracoastal Waterway. Archeologists have long debated the purpose of shell mounds. Were they built as monuments, were they used to trap fish, or were they simply waste piles leftover from feasts? Over time, the oyster shells break down, forming a ring of rich soil. This Sewee shell ring is one of the oldest in the United States.

Seewee Shell Ring - Awendaw

Annie Banks of McClellanville, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Francis Marion National Forest offers a self-guided, mile-long trail which will lead you to the Sewee shell mound. Along this short trail, visitors will be exposed to three diverse ecosystems; the maritime forest, the salt marsh, and the shell mound itself. Wildlife and rare plant viewing opportunities are abundant, and this boardwalk carries visitors through areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Seewee Shell Ring Trail

Two unique geological features are found in the Francis Marion National Forest: Carolina bays and limestone sinks. Carolina Bays are depressions in the earth, of unknown origin, which fill with rainwater most often in the spring and winter. Considered a freshwater wetland, these bays often dry during the summer months causing different plant and animal species to live in them, depending on the season. Of an estimated 2,600 naturally occurring Carolina bays in the state, only 200 remain in pristine condition. 25 of these are located within the Francis Marion National Forest. Limestone sinks are also known as carbon sinks and are natural reservoirs that accumulate and store a carbon-containing chemical.

Francis Marion National Forest

Jim Fowler of Greenville, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Francis Marion National Forest offers a variety of recreational activities including rife ranges, boat landings, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and well-maintained roads for driving. The 42-mile Swamp Fox Passage begins in Moncks Corner and ends in Awendaw. It in turn forms part of the Palmetto Trail, a 425-mile foot and mountain bike path that traverses a large portion of South Carolina. Campsites are available along the Swamp Fox Passage, as well as in other areas of the forest. Tree farms, experimental forest areas, wildlife refuges, and a broad range of historic sites provide something for everyone.

Francis Marion National Forest

Jim Fowler of Greenville, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Today, the Francis Marion National Forest continues to meet new challenges and make its mark on surrounding communities. Hurricane Hugo ravaged the forest in 1989, leveling more than one third of its trees. As new trees and plants grew, so did the threat of catastrophic fire. Forest rangers began the challenging task of clearing the hazardously dense trees and brush – turning the resulting biomass into a local energy source. This practice continues today.

Boundaries – Francis Marion National Forest

Much like the ACE Basin, the Francis Marion National Forest is a patchwork quilt of public land spread across a bed of private land, homes, and even highways. One might envision it as a rather old and threadbare quilt, with holes worn where small towns and other missing pieces show through. For example, the forest’s official borders cover the entire Town of McClellanville, and indeed most of the land there is natural, but McClellanville is also an active village and with a population of roughly 500. Thus the borders of the Francis Marion National Forest in McClellanville encompass schools, municipal buildings, restaurants, and over 200 homes.

The boundary of the Francis Marion National Forest also encompass the rural towns of Awendaw, Jamestown, and the bulk of Bonneau, in addition to a few incorporated places like Cordesville and Huger.

Santee Coastal WMA

Sue Roberts of Kershaw, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Roughly speaking, however, one could say the forest is bordered by Lake Moultrie to the west, the Santee River to the east, the Intracoastal Waterway to the east, and South Carolina Highway 98 to the south. Many of the adjoining properties are also natural areas, including the magnificent Cape Romain, the Capers Island Heritage Preserve, the Bonneau Ferry WMA, the Old Santee Canal State Park, the Santee Coastal Reserve, the Santee Delta WMA, and the Wee Tee State Forest. All of these parcels expand the area of protected land beyond the forest’s official 259,000 acres.

McConnell's Landing

Linda Brown of Kingstree, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Francis Marion National Forest contains four “wilderness areas” – Hellhole Bay Wilderness, Wambaw Swamp Wilderness, Little Wambaw Swamp Wilderness, are Wambaw Creek Wilderness. Each of these fall under the purview of the National Wilderness Preservation System, a federal program with separate management from the larger forest. There are numerous state and county natural areas as well, including Hampton Plantation State Park north of McClellanville.

The best map we know of it located below. If you click on it, you will go to the Forest Service’s website and can download a high-resolution version.

Map of Francis Marion National Forest

Landmarks – Francis Marion National Forest

Hell Hole Swamp – Jamestown

Hampton Plantation – McClellanville

Eccles United Methodist Church – Huger

Pineville Lookout Tower

Francis Marion Gravesite – Pineville

Halfway Creek Church – Shulerville

Brick Church at Wambaw – McClellanville

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you enjoy this page? Do you have any information we should add? Send us your comments below — we can't wait to hear from you!


Join Us on Facebook
Follow Us on Instagram
See Us on Pinterest


Abbeville ACE Basin Adams Run Aiken Alcolu Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Branchville Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cayce Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Chesterfield Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Daufuskie Island Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Ehrhardt Elloree Eutawville Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Fort Mill Fountain Inn Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Great Falls Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hardeeville Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Hodges Holly Hill Honea Path Hopkins Hotels & Inns Huger Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Jamestown Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kelleytown Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Lowndesville Manning Marion Mars Bluff McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinewood Pinopolis Plantations Pomaria Port Royal Post Offices Prosperity Ravenel Restaurants Ridgeland Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Santee Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stateburg Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Troy Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Ware Shoals Waterfalls Water Towers Wedgefield West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Woodruff Yemassee York