Huntington Beach State Park can be found at the southern end of the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet. Within the park, visitors will find Atalaya, a Spanish style former home of the American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband and philanthropist, Archer Huntington. The Huntingtons also established the gorgeous Brookgreen Gardens that are located nearby.
The park is a nature lover’s paradise with its fresh water lagoon, maritime forest, salt marsh and beach. Upon entering the park from the causeway, the right side reveals Mullet Pond, a managed freshwater marsh. On the left side lies the salt marsh. Each of these features provide excellent samples of the natural coastal environment of South Carolina.
Both the zealous and amateur bird watcher will eagerly seek out the numerous fowl of this area that claims to be one of the finest bird watching sites on the East Coast. The birds show up throughout the year and many of the best sightings have been reported during the winter months.
The freshwater side of the causeway often rewards bird watchers with a view of a bald eagle. There is reportedly an eagle pair nesting in Brookgreen Gardens that utilize the park’s wetlands as their feeding grounds. One of their favorite methods of garnering food is to steal from other birds, which can be quite entertaining to observe. A variety of ducks inhabit this beach area during the winter. The jetty at the northern end of the park attracts species such as razorbills and black guillemots, horned grebes and purple sandpipers. Other shorebirds such as the endangered piping plover are sometimes seen along the beach area.
The popular campgrounds at Huntington Beach State Park provide over 100 sites for RV camping and six sites with tent pads. Fishing is a popular pastime at the park as enthusiasts enjoy casting from the jetty and surf fishing on the beach. For those who prefer to take out a boat, there is a boat ramp about a mile from the park entrance.
Sheltered picnic areas are available for families or groups to get together. There is a fee to reserve each of these three shelters. If the shelters are not reserved, they can be used on a first come basis. The park store provides a convenient location for limited groceries, firewood, crabbing nets and snacks.
The Education Center is a 2,500 square foot building featuring a saltwater fish tank and a live baby alligator along with other exhibits. The center seeks to inform guests of the interdependent relationship between humans and the natural coastal environment.
The Interpretive Trail begins at the parking area with a leisurely walk to a boardwalk that extends onto a freshwater lagoon. This is a great place to see many species of birds. Hikers like to take advantage of the Sandpiper Pond Trail that provides a two-mile excursion throughout the park. The trail goes along parts of the natural beach, through the coastal forest filled with oaks, cedars and creeping vines, a boardwalk and a saltwater pond with observation towers. Those who wish to extend their hike, can continue on to Murrells Inlet Jetty creating a six mile trail.
Huntington State Park offers quite a few interesting programs that include beach combing to search for seashells and their inhabitants. The Atalaya tour lets visitors know how the home helped the local community through some tough years and how it inspired art. Bird watchers will want to join the walk along the causeway and the salt marsh in search for interesting birds. The Alligators program is a one-hour walking tour on the causeway in search for these reptiles as they sun, feed or swim through the water. There have even been occasions of alligators being seen crossing the causeway. Other programs focus on sea turtles, fish printing art, snakes and reptiles. Coastal Kayaking is great for even beginners to participate in a two-hour tour of the salt marsh.
Huntington Beach State Park is a terrific place to get away from the crowds and just enjoy the beautiful undisturbed nature of Myrtle Beach. For information on park hours and admission, visit their website below.
Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
Reviewed March 14, 2010 / Stars
“Huntington Beach State Park near Myrtle Beach SC offers an incredible nature garden, education center, picnic areas, campgrounds, and more and is among the best things to do near Myrtle Beach, SC.”
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