Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I get there?
    From I-95, take SC Exit 8 and travel east on US Hwy. 278, toward Hilton Head Island, approximately 18 miles to the refuge entrance on the left.  From Hilton Head Island, exit the island via US 278 west, and the refuge entrance will be on your right approximately 1/2 mile.
  • Are there any costs associated with a visit?
    There are no fees charged to visit the refuge.
  • What is the best time to come to Pinckney?
    Wildlife viewing is best during the spring and fall months.  Throughout the spring, when wintering songbirds linger just prior to their migration, and breeding birds are arriving, birdwatching on the refuge is excellent.  Wading bird rookeries located in several of the island's freshwater ponds are noisy with activity, as herons and egrets prepare for the nesting season.  Migrating flocks of shorebirds can also be seen in the spring and fall foraging on tidal mudflats or in the high grass of the saltmarsh.  Alligators are most commonly seen basking on the banks of the ponds during spring, fall, and winter, on mild, sunny days.  Fox squirrels and white-tailed deer may be encountered at any time of the year by observant visitors.  Bucks, with newly grown antlers in velvet, are sometimes seen in the summer months.
  • Are there alligators on Pinckney Island?
    Yes, there are alligators in most every freshwater area on the refuge, and they may even be found crossing roads during springtime.  Also, it is not uncommon to see alligators swimming in the saltwaters of Mackay Creek, a navigable waterway that separates Pinckney Island from the South Carolina mainland.
  • Where might I see a Painted Bunting?
    Painted Buntings are one of the most easily spotted of Pinckney's breeding songbirds.  The blue head, lime green back and red throat and belly of male Painted Buntings is not easily mistaken for any other species.  They are commonly observed in edge areas where the live oak and cabbage palm forests meet open grassy fields.  Breeding males may sing from the cover of forested areas or from atop a snag out in the open.  Both males and females have been seen in the meadow at Ibis Pond, foraging on the seeds of green grasses.
  • Is fishing allows on Pinckney Island?
    Freshwater fishing in refuge ponds is prohibited.  However, saltwater fishing in the marshes and waters adjacent to the refuge is allowed (Shellfishing is also permitted in State designated areas.)  Boats may access fishing areas from the public boat ramp located off US Highway 278 across from the refuge entrance.  Consult refuge brochures for more specific regulations.
  • Are there many deer on Pinckney Island, and do you allow hunting?
    Each year the refuge holds a one-day quota hunt to ensure that population numbers remain in balance with the surrounding habitat. Click here to download refuge hunt regulations.


Last updated: May 1, 2012