4 Holes Swamp at the Audubon Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest
We took a guided kayak tour of the 4 Holes Swamp. My husband and I in their tandem fiberglass kayak ("industrial strength") and our guide in a single kayak. They would not let us use our kayaks, which had to remain on our car-top. The launch site is up the road from the Audubon Center and our guide took us there thru several locked gates.
We put into a wide area with alligators on the opposite bank. During the trip we saw 4 gators, but had no problems at all with them. The water was high that day and we had to be careful not to brush up against the huge bushes (trees?) of poison ivy hanging down, but had no problems. (I suggest long sleeves).
It was fascinating and we saw many birds, one brown water snake, and many flowers. The sounds of the swamp were impressive. Hundreds of unusual bird calls; we were transported back to pre-historic times. The cypress and tupelo are very impressive.
Don't complain about going with a guide; you could very easily get lost in the swamp. Don't fuss about not using your own boat-some of the places were so tight between the cypress "knees" we had to pull our selves along and could not paddle. Don't be in a hurry, this is a real experience!
This is an easy paddle, but novice paddlers might get nervous with the very tight maneuvering required. If you are not used to gators it could make you nervous. You are in dense swamp, very primal...
I wish we had allowed a lot more time to sit on the boardwalk over at the Audubon Center and take it all in from dry land too! Just so much to see and comprehend. Well worth the effort to find this out of the way place!
The Audubon Center at Beidler Forest has a ranger station, a gift shop, a community room, a few displays, nice bathrooms with hot water and flush toilets. There are picnic tables in the parking area.
No, but the kayak trip was $35 each, which included the boats, paddles, PFD, and the guide.
Take Interstate 26 from Columbia towards Charleston, SC. Exit # 177 at Harleyville, SC. Right at the end of the ramp, to towards and thru Harleyville on US 178. Follow the brown Forest Service signs, it's well marked. Your GPS will decide on a much longer weird route so follow the brown signs. The last part is dirt roads, but wide and safe and a pretty drive.