Visitor Activities

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Fishing, birding, hiking, wildlife observation, photography, and hunting opportunities abound for visitors at Waccamaw NWR!


  • Hunting

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    Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer, feral hog, turkey, squirrel, raccoon, opossum, snipe, woodcock, and waterfowl in accordance with state regulations and seasons. Big game hunting, primarily for white-tailed deer has been a traditional recreational use in the local area and on the Refuge. Deer harvest is essential to maintaining the herd's overall health and for protection of sensitive habitats. The Refuge allows hunting of white-tailed deer with archery, muzzle loader, and modern weapons. Turkey hunting is allowed on the Refuge in Unit 1 for adult-youth pairs only.

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  • Fishing


    The rivers surrounding Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge provide excellent year-round opportunities for recreational fishing. Freshwater fishes such as Largemouth bass, Redbreast sunfish, Bluegill, Redear sunfish, Warmouth, Pumpkinseed, Black crappie, Chain pickerel, Redfin, pickerel, Bowfin, and numerous species of catfish are all highly sought after by anglers in this blackwater river system. The Great Pee Dee, Waccamaw, and Black Rivers all combine to provide an unimpeded tidal freshwater estuary full of life.

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  • Wildlife Viewing


    Birding on the Refuge:
    Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge is becoming a hotspot for Swallow-tailed kites. Listed as endangered in South Carolina, these raptors nest on the Refuge during Spring and Summer and have been seen flying over the Visitor Center and neighboring rivers during all hours of the day. The Refuge is home to over 200 species of birds throughout the year including warblers, woodpeckers, owls, finches, ducks, geese, herons, storks, eagles, hawks, falcons, quail, turkey, and many others. You can enjoy birding along any of our trails as well as from a boat in the waters surrounding the Refuge.
    Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge’s Birdlist

  • Interpretation

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    Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge offers miles of interpretive nature trails, a mountain biking trail, boardwalk, kiosks and a covered picnic pavilion.

    On the southern end of Sandy Island a trail begins at the beach near Thoroughfare Creek Landing and offers views of longleaf pine and pocosin bay communities. The trail includes interpretive trail signs about the island's abundant plants and wildlife. Download a map of the trail as well as a short guide to the island.

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  • Environmental Education

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    Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge has a state of the art environmental education center located in our Visitor Center overlooking the Great Pee Dee River and Yauhannah Lake. We have opportunities for hands-on learning, outdoor classrooms, indoor educational programs, and interpretive exhibits. We offer programs to school groups, clubs, and organizations all year long. The programs we offer are primarily led by the Friends of Coastal South Carolina (FCSC) staff and include subjects such as reptiles, invasive species, freshwater ecology, water quality, and more.

    For more information about the types of programs offered by the FCSC or to schedule a program for your class or group, please visit our For Educators page on our website or contact FCSC.

    Friends of Coastal South Carolina
    5821 Highway 17 North
    Awendaw, SC 29429
    Office: (843) 928-3368 ext. 15
    Fax: (843) 928-3828

  • Photography


    The best opportunities for wildlife observation and photography on Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge can be found by boating through Big and Little Bull Creeks and on the Cox Ferry Lake Recreation Area. During the spring and summer American swallow-tailed kites soar frequently over these areas. A nature trail and boardwalk located at the Cox Ferry Lake Recreation Area offers unique wildlife observation opportunities and a canoe trail is being developed on the Pee Dee River and Yauhannah Lake which will offer visitors a unique opportunity to paddle through a blackwater swamp. For more information on public use opportunities, or information regarding necessary permits, contact the refuge office at (843) 527-8069.

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  • Hiking

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    If you are interested in hiking on the Refuge, we would suggest you visit our Cox Ferry Lake Recreation Area in Conway which is roughly 15 miles from our Visitor Center. It has three trails of varying lengths including a boardwalk which allows hikers to meander through a flooded cypress swamp. You can expect to see a variety of forest wildlife, including an array of plants and animals associated with bottomland hardwood habitats. The Cox Ferry Lake Recreation Area also offers a bike trail for biking enthusiast.

    Hiking is also permitted along the Great Pee Dee River at the Hwy. 701 bridge just north of Yauhannah Lake.

    Waccamaw Tearsheet

    Cox Ferry Lake Recreational Area Trail

  • Canoeing, kayaking and boating

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    Canoeing, kayaking, and boating:
    Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge has endless opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and boating. In fact, many feel that the best way to see the Refuge is from the water. The Great Pee Dee River has been designated by South Carolina as a State Scenic River. The portion of the Waccamaw River that runs throughout the Refuge has been designated as a National Water Trail by the National Park Service. These two rivers converge in the heart of the Refuge to form a thriving estuary full of wildlife and beautiful low-country vistas. There are canoe and kayak launching facilities located at the Cox Ferry Lake Recreation Area and at the end of Jackson Bluff Rd. in Conway. You can also put in at many boat ramps located along the Great Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers.


    American Rivers Waccamaw River Blue Trail Map