Culture // 5 min Read

5 Best Places to See Winter Wildlife in the Lowcountry

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Dec 20, 2022

Experience Winter Wildlife This Season

The Lowcountry is a wondrous place to live, not only for its breathtaking scenery and historical significance but also for the wildlife that it inhabits. The winter wildlife in South Carolina includes a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as many rare and endangered species. Because of the year-round subtropical weather, winter wildlife thrives in the rich environment Palmetto Bluff strives to conserve.

As the most unique and enchanting region on the east coast, the Lowcountry is home to wildlife you will not find anywhere else. For a list of the best places in South Carolina to visit winter wildlife, continue reading.

1. New River Trail

Nestled along May River Road, the New River Trail is a striking route perfect for biking, jogging, and strolling. As part of the East Coast Greenway, this 5.2-mile pathway follows an old railroad bed that originally supported the Seaboard Air Railway.

As you traverse grassy trails and woodlands, the fading grid of waterways and clay dams is notably visible, especially during the winter. However, that is not the only wonder you will discover. The flat terrain lets you get an up-close view of winter wildlife such as turkeys, white-tailed deer, and waterfowl.

2. Sea Pines Forest Preserve

The hidden gem of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve is the largest area of untouched property on Hilton Head Island. Through lush coastal woods and beneath a high canopy of emerald trees, the natural preserve spans more than 600 acres.

Through its meandering paths, guided boat excursions, and horseback riding, the historical site provides visitors with many opportunities to explore. As you wander along the preserve, you’ll see freshwater lakes and secluded wetlands that are in abundance of diverse wildlife. Migratory ducks flutter throughout the glistening waters while Hilton Head white-tailed deer skip among the tall grass.

3. Buckwalter Place Greenway Trail

Both locals and tourists are drawn to exploring the Buckwalter Place Greenway Trail. The 1.35-mile picturesque trail is located in a wetlands buffer, with natural elements such as mesic and bottomland hardwoods, calming waterways, man-made lagoons, and planted coniferous forests.

As you journey through the greenway, you’ll hear the sounds of nature as wildlife rustle through the surrounding wooded area. Through the pine timber, deer and other fauna prance while aquatic creatures such frogs, sirens, and salamanders, one of the rarest amphibians in the Lowcountry, swim in the marshlands.

4. Audubon Newhall Preserve

Off Palmetto Bay Road, the Audubon Newhall Preserve is a natural wonder owned and managed by the Hilton Head Audubon Society. Winding through 50 acres, the refuge is home to many unique coastal environments. Outdoor enthusiasts and local birdwatchers frequent the preserve, as it is a stop on the Hilton Head Island Birding Trail.

Along with the diverse selection of birds, you will also see owls, mallard ducks, wood storks, and snowy egrets. The Hilton Head Audubon Society protects precious wildlife as they strive to conserve nearby communities and the larger ecosystem through advocacy, educational initiatives, and community research.

5. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

The 4,053-acre Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge features a variety of ecosystems, such as tidal salt marshes, woodlands, meadows, and freshwater ponds that allow a variety of bird and plant species to thrive. However, animals such as red foxes, alligators, white-tailed deer, and river otters also make up the habitat at the refuge.

Additionally, mountain lions, also known as Carolina cougars, stroll through the expansive sand flats that lead to quiet marsh areas where winter wildlife is abundant. Wading birds, such as snowy egrets and white ibis, paint a picture of beauty and tranquility. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is just as charming as it is dedicated. Their mission is to ensure the survival of native wildlife species by protecting and preserving wildlife and their habitat.

Related: Explore the Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge

Join the Conservation Community at Palmetto Bluff

Among all the places to see winter wildlife, Palmetto Bluff is no exception. Throughout our 20,000 acres of property, there are hidden maritime forest trails and winding tidal creeks that allow for an intimate view of wildlife. However, the Bluff is not only a place to witness rich wildlife but also to get involved in the conservation of their environment.

The Conservancy at Palmetto Bluff provides endless opportunities to partake in the Bluff’s conservation efforts through environmental educational programs, workshops, and field trips. Experience the diverse flora and fauna of the Lowcountry while also learning about preserving the local wildlife and seeing our Conservancy’s efforts come to fruition. As a Palmetto Bluff member, you get exclusive access to wildlife excursions and other events. Membership in Palmetto Bluff is as simple as owning a property and living the luxury Lowcountry lifestyle.

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