A Brief History of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve

The Sea Pines Forest Preserve has a long and colorful history. It was first inhabited by Nomadic Indians 4,000 years ago, who hunted and gathered shells in salt marshes that are freshwater wetlands today. It was these Nomadic Indians who created the Sea Pines Indian Shell Ring, which was most likely a tribal plaza, where the indians gathered for ceremonies and festivals, which can still be seen to this date. Since 1700, the area has been used for growing rice, indigo and cotton, hunting and harvesting timber.

In 1959, The Fraser family, founders and developers of Sea Pines, established a tract of 572 acres for the Preserve. They filed legal covenants in 1970, dedicating 605 acres total for the wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. The first trails were constructed in the early 1970's. Since then bridle paths, wetland boardwalks, observation decks, bridges and fishing docks have been added to improve visitor access and enjoyment. Fish Island trail was constructed to allow motorists to drive to the lakes located in the center of the Preserve. These lakes - Joe, Thomas, Mary and Chapin - were dug between 1968 and 1980 and are renowned for their birdlife and fisheries.

Experience these Points of Interest

  • The Indian Shell Ring is the site of a 4,000-year old Indian Village.
  • Acres of native flora bloom in the wildflower meadow by Lake Thomas.
  • View marshes & wildlife from a boardwalk & three observation decks at Old Lawton Rice Field.
  • Explore a secluded forest on the boardwalk through the Vanishing Swamp.
  • At the center of the Preserves Fish Island is a prime viewing area for picnickers.

Forest Preserve Trails

The Sea Pines Forest Preserve also offers guided boat, horseback, walking, fishing and wagon tours.

To Make a Donation

Donations for conservation efforts should be sent to the following non-profit organization:

The Sea Pines Forest Preserve Foundation
175 Greenwood Drive
Hilton Head Island SC, 29928
(843) 842-1979