For those reminiscing about the warmth and familiarity of an authentic small town, Walterboro provides the perfect opportunity to step back through time. Nature lovers can take advantage of South Carolina’s year-round balmy weather and enjoy the quiet solitude of the ACE Basin and The Great Swamp Sanctuary, which is accessible from downtown.
Visitors are reminded of the town’s early days as a summer retreat—tree-lined streets where quaint homes with broad porches and beautiful churches date to the 18th century. The early planters who summered here also built the town’s first library in 1820.
It’s been more than two centuries since a pair of Southern plantation owners, Paul and Jacob Walter, seeking solace from Coastal Carolina’s sultry summers and pervasive mosquitoes, found an area about 45 miles west of Charleston to their liking. The town they established in 1784 is still thriving, offering visitors a wide range of festivals, other activities, and two historic districts: Historic Hickory Valley, a largely residential area with homes dating between 1814 and 1929; and the Walterboro Historic District, which covers the historic businesses and the lovely small town full of southern charm and heritage.
Among its sites on the National Register of Historic Places are the Colleton County Courthouse, the Old Colleton County Jail, and the Walterboro Library Society Building, also known as the Little Library and now the headquarters for the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society.
The town’s two major drawing cards, however, are only tenuously related to history and to each other. Walterboro is the home of The Great Swamp Sanctuary, an 800-acre wildlife preserve that attracts more than 10,000 visitors a year, and its downtown is evolving into a major antiquing center. The town, with a population of about 5,800, strives to do its best to take advantage of its notoriety in both areas.
Treasure-hunters love scouring the village’s dozen antique shops, finding everything from high-end antiques to fun vintage souvenirs or shopping the Colleton Farmers Market for farm-fresh produce and delicious homemade food products.
Comprised of over 800 acres of braided creek and hardwood flats, the Great Swamp Sanctuary offers boardwalks, bridges, bike and walking trails for viewing natural Lowcountry wildlife and beauty. Spanish moss drips from Cypress trees and wildflowers abound as you pass a beaver pond, duck pond, and butterfly garden.
From sunrise to sunset, a visit to the sanctuary promises a day full of hiking, canoeing, and cycling through pristine Lowcountry swamps. Wildlife is abundant with native populations of wild turkey, deer, coyotes, raccoons, beaver, otter, opossum, squirrels, fox, and wildcats.
The old Charleston to Savannah wagon road runs through the heart of the Sanctuary. While the wooden bridges have decayed, the impressive road bed remains. The bridges have been replaced with boardwalks and the road bed has become an integral part of the trails. The overland commerce of Colonial times moved over this road.
The headwaters of the Ashepoo River (the A in the ACE Basin), originate in the Sanctuary. Three creeks join inside of the Sanctuary to form one of the major tributaries of the ACE Basin. The Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers which give the ACE Basin its name, combine to create one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the Atlantic Coast.
The ACE Basin consists of approximately 350,000 acres of diverse habitats including pine and hardwood uplands, forested wetlands, fresh, brackish, and salt water tidal marshes, barrier islands, and beaches. In addition, the region is rich in historic and cultural landmarks such as old plantation homes, forts, cemeteries, and churches.
Walterboro is only 45 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Charleston, Edisto Island, Savannah, and Hilton Head Island are only a short drive away, and Interstate 95, the main north-south corridor on the Eastern Seaboard, skirts the western edge of the city.
Conveniently located the New Green Acres RV Park offers 106 long and wide pull through sites with full hookups including 50/30-amp electric service. Our home base while exploring Walterboro and the Lowcounty, we would return to this 5-star RV park in a heart-beat.
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning.