Discover the peaceful, accessible destinations on Hilton Head that incorporate its rich history and natural beauty — but aren’t quite as crowded as those beaches.
1. Fish Haul Creek Park (Beach City Road)
Maritime forests, wetlands, salt marshes and beaches await at this remote 16-acre park, which best presents its beauty through a boardwalk to the salt marsh and shaded trail to Port Royal Sound. The area’s tidal flats provide a feeding, resting and play ground for shore birds and marine creatures, and at low tide the flats become a local’s beach that reaches far into the sound, one dotted with explorers seeking out clams, fish, shells or simply a quiet walk. The park is blessed with history, as well: More than 3,000 ago this land was home to Native Americans, and in 1862 it served as the site of Mitchelville, the first American town built and self-governed by freed slaves.
2. Barker Field Observation Deck (Mitcheville Road)
Tucked behind the baseball and soccer fields of Barker Field is a long boardwalk that traverses a brackish marsh toward Port Royal Sound. At the end of the walk sits an observation deck that offers vast, expansive views of sound. To the east is the Atlantic, to the west the Broad River, and across the way are St. Helena and Parris islands. Sit for a minute and let the marsh songbirds serenade you with a tune.
3. Greens Shell Community Park (Squire Pope Road)
At Greens Shell, a typically pleasant park — with a playground, half-court basketball hoop and picnic area — quickly turns into a stroll back in time. Walk through the small gate into Amalie Cemetery and turn down the wood-chip path to the right; you will be led to an elevated boardwalk and platform which protects an archeological gem: an earthen and oyster shell ring, four feet high and 30 feet wide at its base. This ring encloses about two acres of land and defines the border of a Native American farming village that dates back to the year 1335. Stroll over the enclosed area to the platform across the way; you are now above the other side of the ring and looking out over Skull Creek and the Intracoastal Waterway toward Pinckney Island. Greens Shell is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
4. Veterans Memorial, Shelter Cove Community Park
American and POW/MIA flags fly day and night over this white granite memorial in a quiet park on the east bank of Broad Creek. Walk along the pathway through the park and take in the view over marsh and creek at the observation deck. Twice each year, on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day, the community fills the memorial lawn to honor members of our armed forces past and present.
5. Old House Creek Pier (Sterling Pointe Drive)
Old House Creek houses this wonderfully secluded fishing and crabbing pier, which offers a vista across Calibogue Sound. The pier receives a variety of visitors — shrimp, fiddler crabs, fish and crab — and the wildlife viewing area at the end of the 225-foot walkway offers a place to watch them all. And in the evening, a small gathering happens here to watch the sun slip under the horizon — a nightly ritual for some local families.