5 Hikes That Put the Natural Beauty of Hilton Head Island on Full Display

Hilton Head Island may be known for its gorgeous coastline, but there’s a reason the south is known as the land of the pines.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve in Hilton Head showing trees reflection in water on a clear day
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images/500px Plus

When we explore a new destination, we don’t want to just scratch the surface. Sure, we’re excited about the obvious attractions, but we want to find the under-the-radar vistas on vacation, rather than beelining to the most crowded lookout point. Put another way, when we venture to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, it’s not just about the beaches.

While the white-sand beaches of Hilton Head Island are inviting in any season, there’s also plenty of natural beauty to be found on the island’s hiking trails. See every magnificent vista the lowcountry has to offer on these five Hilton Head Island hikes.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve

Nestled within the enchanting Sea Pines Resort, nature lovers will find the 605-acre Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Whether you’re keen on a trail run winding along any of the four lakes within the preserve, or you’re walking just long enough to scout the best wildflower vista for an Instagram pic, Sea Pines Forest Preserve has all the trails and scenic views you need. (And if you’re looking for an Instagram caption, “headin’ down south to the land of the pines” feels particularly appropriate paired with the Sea Pines Forest Preserve geotag.)

Audubon Newhall Preserve

Hilton Head Audubon takes immense pride in preserving the nature and wildlife habitats on this island. And a hike through the Audubon Newhall Preserve shows you just how impactful their preservation efforts have been. Grab a trail guide at the entrance to the 50-acre preserve, which will point you in the direction of beautiful rare trees and plants along the two-mile hiking trail through the preserve.

Mitchelville Freedom Park

We love Mitchelville Freedom Park because it blends the best of inland and coastal Hilton Head Island into one small stretch of terrain. A scenic wooded trail sweeps you through Mitchelville Freedom Park, bringing you right to Fish Haul Creek Beach. For travelers just visiting Hilton Head Island for the day — hoping to get a taste of the hiking scene and some time on the beach — hiking through Mitchelville Freedom Park before laying out in the sun at Fish Haul Creek Beach is a perfect combination.

Jarvis Creek Park

Hilton Head Island might be known for lowcountry beach life, but they’ve got lakeside hiking, too. Within the 53-acre Jarvis Creek Park, hikers can take the quick 1.1-mile loop, open to walkers, runners, and bikers. Budding bird watchers might catch a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron on their walk, while walkers who are only into hiking for the post-hike picnic (no judgement) will enjoy sprawling by the 11-acre lake with a sandwich and some trail mix.

Burkes Beach

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a beach trail that allows you to traverse Hilton Head Island’s idyllic coast. Wind along the Atlantic Ocean — walking through sand is, after all, great resistance training — and snake slightly inland on a sandy path to Chaplin Community Park. If you’re lucky enough to be at Burkes Beach for high tide, you’ll notice water from the Atlantic flowing into a salt marsh, creating a makeshift creek to walk along.

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