Visitor Activities

Wild Turkey

Download a map of Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge.  This is a georeferenced map, so if downloaded to a GPS enabled device, you can see your location! The  map above is goespatially referenced and may be downloaded to your mobile device.  You will need to import/open the PDF into a compatible program on your device, such as Avenza.

  • Hunting

    Hunting

    Hunting is permitted during specific seasons in accordance with applicable State regulations and specific refuge regulations. A refuge permit is required for all hunts and must be carried while hunting, and is not valid until signed. Permits are non-transferable.  There are designated seasons for mourning doves, woodcock, white-tailed deer, Northern bobwhite quail, rabbits, raccoons, opossum, and wild turkeys (quota hunt).

    The refuge is open (except designated closed areas) for pre-hunt scouting from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset. Dogs are permitted for bird hunting and for hunting raccoon and opossum at night only. 

    The use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on the refuge is prohibited except by mobility-impaired hunters in the designated mobility-impaired hunt area. These hunters must provide a copy of their South Carolina Disabled Hunting license. This document must be presented at the Refuge Office no later than 10 calendar days prior to the first day of the hunt period. A special permit will be issued to permit the use of an ATV on the Refuge. All rules and regulations pertaining to standard vehicles will also apply to ATVs. 

    Refuge Hunting Regulations and Permit 

    Annual Hunting Supplemental Information Sheet  

    Hunter Education Classes 

    Turkey Hunt Application

     

  • Fishing

    Fishing

     

    -Sport fishing on Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge is permitted on approximately 310 acres. All fishing shall be in accordance with all applicable State and refuge regulations.

    -A South Carolina fishing license is required.

    -All fishing is prohibited in Martins Lake.

    -Oxpen Lake is for adult-youth fishing only. A youth (under 16 years of age) must be actively fishing and accompanied by no more than two adults at least 18 years of age. Adults are not allowed to fish unless accompanied by a youth.

    -Only boats with electric motors are permitted; gas motors are prohibited.

    -Swimming and wading are prohibited.

    -Visitors are permitted on the Refuge from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset.

    The regulations and conditions, as well as boating information and a map of open fishing areas, can be downloaded at the links below:

    Fishing Regulations

    Refuge Fishing Map 

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Eastern fox squirrel

    The refuge's paved Visitors Drive, along with 140 miles of earthen and gravel roads, provides access for wildlife observation and photography. All refuge roads are open to vehicular traffic except those marked "Authorized Vehicles Only" or those that have been blocked. All areas of the refuge are open to foot traffic except for those posted "Closed to Public Entry". Please do not block any refuge gates. 

    Bird watching is a favorite activity at Carolina Sandhills NWR. The refuge is home to nearly 200 species of birds, including the red-cockaded woodpecker and a variety of migratory birds. If you're looking for a place to flesh out your "life list" of birds you've spotted, definitely consider Carolina Sandhills NWR as a prime destination.

    Migrating ducks and geese begin to arrive in October and remain through early March. Wood ducks and a small flock of Canada geese are resident on the refuge and nest here in spring and summer. Many species of water birds, raptors, and songbirds are found on the refuge throughout the year. Carolina Sandhills NWR has the largest population of red-cockaded woodpeckers, an endangered species that builds its nesting cavity in living pine trees, on Fish and Wildlife Service lands.

    Good Birding Spots

    The Woodland Pond Trail, located approximately one mile from the Refuge office, is a good area for spotting songbirds, possibly Bachman's sparrow. (Caution: there may be many horseflies in this area during the late spring and summer.)  

    Several large open fields located adjacent to Visitor's Drive provide opportunities to see raptors, wild turkey, and small mammals. The Oxpen area has a clearly marked observation tower and is good for grassland birds. You can also see raptors in this area. Many birders come to the Refuge specifically to spot a red-cockaded woodpecker. Listen for its the call.  Cavity trees for this species are marked with a white band.  We ask that you stay at least 200 feet away from the nesting and roosting trees of the red-cockaded woodpecker and use binoculars or a spotting scope to view these birds.

  • Hiking and Trails

    Hiking and Trails

    All areas of Carolina Sandhills NWR are open to foot traffic. However, the following trails are maintained for public use. REFUGE MAP

    Pool A Recreation Area - MAP

    • Woodland Pond Nature Trail - One mile; passes through wetlands, upland pine habitat, and a small open area. Good area for songbirds; terminus connects with the Longleaf Pine Interpretive Trail across the Wildlife Drive.
    • Longleaf Pine Trail - This 1/4 mile trail with interpretive signage focuses on the longleaf pine ecosystem. 
    • Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) Viewing Area - April through June, this observation area provided good opportunities for viewing red-cockaded woodpecker nesting and foraging activity. Please minimize disturbance to these endangered birds by staying at least 200 feet from cavity trees. All known cavity trees are marked with a white band of paint at eye level. In addition to RCW viewing, this area is an excellent example of the desired future conditions for the longleaf pine ecosystem - open, park-like habitat with multiple ages of longleaf pine and grasses, forbs and wildflowers as groundcover. 

    Martin's Lake Recreation Area - MAPPicnic table, trails, fishing pier, boat ramps, and accessible photoblind and overlook. The lake edges provide excellent conditions for observing wading birds, otters, and small mammals. Visitors with a state-issued accessibility permit/placard may use the accessible parking area at both the photoblind on the north side of Martin's Lake and at the scenic overlook adjacent to Tate's Trail.

    • Tate's Trail - Three miles in length, this trail runs parallel to Martin's Lake and Pool D, makes a loop around Lake 12, and culminates in the Lake Bee Recreation Area. Provides a good view of diverse habitats, including wetlands, bottomland hardwoods, upland pine-scrub oaks, and open pine-grassland areas. 
    • Tripod Trail - This 1/4-mile long trail leads to a photoblind. Interpretive signage along the way describes common wildlife and plants. 

    Lake Bee Recreation Area - MAP Enjoy fishing, hiking, wildlife observation, and picnicking in this area. Three picnic shelters and dozens of tables, along with restrooms, are available. The lake edge provides good birding. Notable plants and animals found in this area include brown-headed nuthatches, several carnivorous plants, and the rare Pine Barrens tree frog, which may be heard from the Pitcher Plant Overlook on the west end of the lake. Nearby Pool H and Triple Lakes host wood ducks and other waterfowl in appropriate seasons. 

    • Tate's Trail - Three miles in length, access points are Martin's Lake Loop, Wildlife Drive Pool D, Pine Barrens Gentian Trail, and Lake Bee Recreation Area.
    • Pine Barrens Gentian Trail - A connector trail to the Tate's Trail, access this trail from the visitor's kiosk on Wildlife Drive located near the intersection with SC Highway 145. This trail follows a woods road for 0.7 miles to Lake 12 and is known for blooming Goat's Rue and Sandhills Lupine in spring and Pine Barrens Gentian in fall. 
    • Turpentine Educational Kiosk - Visit this kiosk to learn about the pines that built the south. A short walk from the kiosk are the remnants of a tar kiln where pine tar was collected, barreled and hipped via railway to coastal markets for use in ship building. 

    Oxpen Recreation Area - MAP - Home to white tailed deer, turkey, hawks, waterfowl, and small mammals. It is also a popular fishing area and home to a variety of wildflowers. The seepage bog near Oxpen Lake 1 includes a large population of pitcher plants. An observation deck provides a scenic view. Listen for the characteristic call of the bobwhite quail May through July.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    We conduct environmental education programs throughout the year for school children, civic organizations, and the general public, and would be happy to host your group at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. Please contact the Refuge offices at (843)335-8401, or e-mail us at carolinasandhills@fws.gov to make arrangements for your group

  • Photography

    photography

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on National Wildlife Refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    The Refuge also maintains a photography blind (pictured left) located at Martin’s Lake. Follow the Wildlife Drive to the three-way stop sign, turning right on Route 9. Approximately half a mile on the right will be a gravel road with a sign indicating Tripod Trail and Photography Blind. This is a hike-in area unless you are mobility impaired. From the parking area, the photography blind is ¼ mile south to Martin’s Lake. If you have mobility impairment, you may access the photography blind via a dirt road that continues to the lake from the parking area.

  • Bicycling

    Bicycling

    There are more than 100 miles of sand and graveled roads that are open to bicyclists. Many of the roads have sections with steep hills; so don't worry about a lack of challenging riding. Please note that all trails, such as the nature trails and walking/hiking trails, are closed to bicycles. You won't find this at all limiting. The refuge offers some pristine riding in areas that are seldom visited by the general public.

    Also note that many of the roads have stretches of deep sand, which can make riding difficult. This is a skill you'll quickly master. Keep your speed up, and shift to a lower gear so you can power through the sand stretches. A mountain bike with wider tires is the preferred bicycle for the road conditions and terrain you'll find at Carolina Sandhills.