Cypress Gardens (12-27-13)
Cypress Gardens is a privately operated nature preserve located about a half hour north of Charleston in the heart of the South Carolina Low Country. Once an early 19th-Century rice plantation by the name of Dean Hall, the property was bought and returned to its (mostly) natural state in the 1930's. Since then it has become one of the most popular visitor destinations in the Low Country. The highlight of the park is, as its name implies, a large cypress swamp of which it offers numerous ways for visitors to explore. Due to the fact that there's an admission charged I would normally not include it on my list of desirable hiking destinations but the reviews I had read concerning it were hard to ignore. Happily, upon visiting, I discovered that the admission was more than appropriate for what the park offers. Aside from nearly 4-miles of hiking trails the Gardens contain a nice Butterfly House, a Swamparium (essentially an aquarium for the creatures of the Low Country swamps, including some really big alligators!), a small museum describing the history of the property, and the Gardens most popular attraction the Swamp Boats. These boats offer the visitor the opportunity to get out on the swamp under their own power and see it from the same angle many of the native creatures see it.
So this visit was much more multifaceted than most of my hiking adventures. While getting out on foot is always the highlight for me this album tries to share a little bit of everything Cypress Gardens has to offer including the boat ride where yours truly showed off his prowess at piloting a swamp rowboat. It was a fascinating visit despite it being the 'dead' season and won me over enough, despite taking my money, to want to make a return visit when things are a bit greener...
Hike Length: 2.0 miles
Hike Duration: 1:30
Trailhead Temp: 60'F