Part of a unique ecosystem, the Sand Hills State Forest is located between the piedmont and coastal plain of South Carolina in Chesterfield and Darlington Counties. The region is characterized by deep sands with generally arid conditions. It consists of 46,838 acres of infertile sand deposited by a prehistoric sea.
During the years 1935-1939 the federal government purchased this area from many local landowners as a relief measure under the Resettlement Administration. These landowners were resettled on more fertile land elsewhere.
The land was managed as a state forest by the S.C. Forestry Commission under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior from 1939 until 1991 when title was transferred to the state.
Because wildfires, improper logging and poor farming practices had almost eliminated timber production, an intensive reforestation project was initiated. In conjunction with the reforestation effort, a wildlife management program was started to improve habitat. As a result of such efforts, the once barren sand hills now support a large inventory of timber and a variety of game and non-game species.
Since its aquisition, Sand Hills has been used as a demonstration area for forest management. During the early years, the objective was to restore the land, to allow it to heal from erosion and misuse, and to protect it from the wildfires that burned annually.
Beginning in the early 1960's, with the lands healing, the Forestry Commission undertook an active forest management program. In recent years, attention has been given to restore native longleaf pines.
An active prescribed burning program reduces fuel accumulation, perpetuates the longleaf pines, and stimulates the production of seed bearing plants for wildlife food.
The Forest is a self-sustaining branch of the Forestry Commission operating entirely on receipts from the forest. In addition, Darlington and Chesterfield counties receive 25% of the Forest's receipts. This 25% is divided between the two counties based on the percent of the Forest in each county.
Wildlife and Fish Management
In the early operation of the Sand Hills, most efforts in wildlife were directed toward protecting the few game animals which remained in the area. However, in the early 1960's, the need for good public hunting and fishing areas prompted an intensive wildlife management program.
Unlike some projects, it was decided to build up wildlife populations by habitat improvements rather than by artificial stocking. To supplement the habitat created through timber management, hundreds of food patches were established to provide food and cover for quail and other small game. Each year food patches are planted for deer, turkey, quail, and songbirds. Additional acreages of brown-top millet, a favorite of mourning doves, are planted annually in several permanent wildlife fields and new clearings. Nesting boxes for summer ducks have been placed at pond heads.
Thirteen fish ponds, stocked with bass, bream and catfish, have been constructed on the Forest and are open year-round. Fertilization in the summer and water-level regulation in the winter months help maintain the biological balance necessary for fish production.
In 1991, the Forest became a part of the Wildlife Management Area(WMA) system. Hunting and fishing areas are open to the public, but all WMA regulations apply. Seasons and limits for some game may be different from those statewide because of special management considerations. Beginning July 1991, fishing will be under State fishing regulations.
Rare and Endangered Species
Although the sand hills may appear inhospitable, many plants and animals have adapted to the unique conditions. Some of the rarer plants and animals of the area are:
- Red-cockaded woodpecker - (Picoides borealis) A small nondescript woodpecker that nests in the cavity of old growth living pine trees. The woodpeckers have the distinctive habit of scarring the nesting tree so that sap runs down the trunk leaving a white, sticky mass.
- Pixie Moss - (Pyxidanthera barbulata) A small, less than 4" high, monotypic species of the Galax family. It has a delicate pink bloom and a fern-like appearance. It grows on arid soils associated with the sand hills and Carolina bays.
- Pine Barrens Treefrog - (Hyla andersoni) Although the treefrog's scientific name is taken from Anderson County, it has been found in the sand hills. It is a striking green frog with purplish black, and is found in association with white cedar bogs and ditch banks.
Sugar Loaf Mountain, a traditional gathering place for over a century, is maintained on Sand Hills state Forest as a family recreational area.
Known locally as "The Mountain", Sugar Loaf is an unusual geological phenomenon towering a hundred feet above the surrounding terrain. Composed of sand, it was at one time capped with ferrous sandstone, much of which has now wealthered away. Vegetation on the mountain is also quite unusual for this area. It includes mountain laurel and the diminutive pixie moss.
Quiet, shady seclusion, rustic stone and timber picnic shelters, a fishing lake and nature trail combine with this unique geological formation to make Sugar Loaf one of the most popular recreation areas in the sand hills region.
Opportunities abound for other forms of recreation such as bird watching, nature study, primitive camping, and horseback riding.
You will need a permit for trail activity on Sand Hills State Forest for Horseback Riding. Permits are not required for hikers using the trails.
These permits can be obtained from the Sand Hills State Forest Headquarters.
Cost per permit:
Daily - $5.00
Annual - $25.00
Permits are valid ONLY on the State Forest where purchased.
No Off Road Vehicles are allowed on Sand Hills property at this time.
***The South Carolina Forestry Commission assumes NO responsibility for loss of property or for any accident that occurs while you are using Sand Hills State Forest.***
SAND HILLS STATE FOREST
Effective July 1, 2004
Family Camping Campsites
$15 per day
|$10 per day|
Sugarloaf Mountain Day Use
|Shelter at Campbell Lake||
$15 per day|
Trail Use Permits
RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED IN ADVANCE AND MUST BE BOOKED AT HEADQUARTERS DURING REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS. RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED AFTER HOURS OR ON WEEKENDS. CHECK-IN TIME IS 11:00 AM AND CHECKOUT TIME IS 11:00AM FOR CAMPSITES, STALLS, AND CORRALS.
Visa and MasterCard accepted
NO REFUNDS & NO TRANSFERS OF RESERVATIONS
Sand Hills State Forest Headquarters is located on Highway 1 near Patrick. The Forest Headquarters is open Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 12:30 PM to 4:00 PM. If you need more information you can email or contact the Forest Headquarters at:
Sand Hills State Forest
16218 Highway 1
Patrick, SC 29584
Forest Director: Brian Davis