The Palmetto State is most popular for the beaches, but the National Park Service should not be ignored. Ranging from Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, where the Civil War began, to the beautiful Congaree National Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park, South Carolina has an NPS site for any taste. Revolutionary War, Civil War, hiking, horseback riding, or canoeing. It’s all up to you at these nine NPS sites in South Carolina.
Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
This national historic site was formerly Snee Farm, a working plantation once owned by Charles Pinckney. Pinckney was a governor of South Carolina, a United States Senator and Representative, and one of the signers of the Constitution.
This site features a plantation house built after Pinckney’s tenure here that is used as the visitor center, gift shop, and museum today. The park explains the vast genealogy of the Pinckney family and how this particular Pinckney drafted an early version of the Constitution.
The historic site includes the plantation house museum, a covered picnic shelter, and a hiking trail along the edge of the property.
1254 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, SC | 843-881-5516 | www.nps.gov/chpi/index.htm
Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park features more trees per acre than any other acre in the country. The Congaree River runs along the edge of the park creating several swamps along the way. The park features several hiking trails including the popular Boardwalk Loop Trail, a 2.5-mile trail through a beautiful section of the old growth hardwood forest.
But the hiking doesn’t end there. This national park has dozens of miles of trails throughout the park including the popular 4.4-mile Weston Lake Loop Trail and 10-mile River Trail. If you’re more keen to get on the water the 15-mile Cedar Creek Canoe Trail is a popular choice. Cedar Creek cuts through the park and eventually leads back to the Congaree River.
100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC | 803-776-4396 | www.nps.gov/cong/index.htm
Cowpens National Battlefield
At this national battlefield you will see the words “double envelopment” a lot. Not sure what that is? You should visit this park to find out. The park is the location where Daniel Morgan turned the flanks of British Colonel Banastre Tarleton in a decided victory for the colonials.
Similar to most other national battlefields, Cowpens features a one-lane, one-way loop road around the battlefield for easy access. The Battlefield Trail from the visitor center is a great way to get out for a short and easy hike to see some outdoor exhibits and moments from the battle.
4001 Chesnee Highway, Gaffney, SC | 864-461-2828 | www.nps.gov/cowp/index.htm
Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park
On April 12, 1861 the first shots of the Civil War were fired from several locations including Fort Moultrie, exploding over Fort Sumter. By 1948 both of these historic sites became property of the National Park Service. For years the site was operated as Fort Sumter National Monument, leaving the other fort out of the limelight, until just recently being renamed the Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park.
Visitors to Fort Sumter can board a ferry boat at Liberty Square in Charleston or Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mt. Pleasant. The tour includes a one hour roundtrip boat ride with historical narration and about forty minutes to explore the fort.
Fort Moultrie is far more accessible with a short drive to Sullivan’s Island. Visitors can explore powder storage rooms beneath the earthen fort, get a view of Fort Sumter from an observation tower, and walk along the perimeter of the fort. F
340 Concord Street, Charleston, SC | 843-883-3123 | www.nps.gov/fosu/index.htm
Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor
This relatively new addition to the National Park Service was designated in 2006 and still something that is under development, but there are a few ways to experience the history of this corridor.
The corridor stretches from Jacksonville, Florida to Wilmington, North Carolina with dozens of sites to visits. Those sites include the Penn Center in St. Helena Island, Drayton Hall in Charleston, and The Rice Museum in Georgetown.
843-818-4587 | https://www.nps.gov/guge/index.htm
Kings Mountain National Military Park
The Battle of Kings Mountain was one of the most important victories for the patriots during the Revolutionary War. It was the first major victory since the Fall of Charleston just a few months earlier and turned the tide of the war.
Today the park features several hiking and horseback riding trails around the visitor center. One of those trails is the 330-mile Overmountain Victory Trail that retraces the path of two groups of patriots who fought in the battle from North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.
2625 Park Road, Blacksburg, SC | 864-936-7921 | www.nps.gov/kimo/index.htm
Ninety Six National Historic Site
This small national historic site is one not to be missed. Two battles were fought here during the Revolutionary War. As a result of the last battle the British burned the forest to prevent locals from rebuilding. That burn is still evident today as you walk the loop trail through the park past the old fort and location of the former town. It’s a short walk and a short visit, but still beautiful to see.
1103 SC-248, Ninety Six, SC | 864-543-4068 | www.nps.gov/nisi/index.htm
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
The 330-mile Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail retraces the path used by patriot militia during the Revolutionary War. The route passes through Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, ending at Kings Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina.
Only 87 miles of that route are still accessible by foot, but the entire route is now a Commemorative Motor Route. The route includes dozens of sites including local and state parks, museums, and historical areas.
338 New Pleasant Road, Gaffney, SC | 864-461-2828 | www.nps.gov/ovvi/index.htm
Reconstruction Era National Monument
The post-Civil War Reconstruction Era was a turbulent time of change, progress, and rebuilding, especially around Beaufort, South Carolina. The Reconstruction Era National Monument is a relatively new unit of the National Park Service, but it’s growing.
Visitors can tour the Penn Center and Beaufort History Museum to learn about the local history before, during, and after Reconstruction, nearby Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island, and see the remains of Fort Howell.
404-507-5868 | www.nps.gov/reer/index.htm