Parks & Recreation

If you're looking for outdoor adventure, look no further. Dorchester County's recreation opportunities are limitless, offering coastline appeal, community parks, as well as state parks and forests – all providing an ideal backdrop for swimming, community events, bird watching, and exploring. Dorchester's community parks offer plenty of in-town space for people to gather and play, while larger, protected areas within the County feature beautiful scenery and the chance for all kinds of outdoor activities.

Parks/Preserves

Azalea Park
Beautifully landscaped, Azalea Park is located in a residential area in the heart of Summerville. Extending over several city blocks, the gardens of Azalea Park put on a spectacular display of flowers every spring. The park is also the venue for many weddings, family outings, and is the center of activity during the Flowertown Festival. Azalea Park is also home of the Sculpture in the South arts event held each year in the spring. A great place to walk, relax, and take the family, Azalea Park consists of 12 acres of pines, oaks, flowers, ponds, sculptures, and walking paths.

Rosebrock Park                                                                                                    

Stretching 76 acres along the banks Ashley River sits one of Dorchester County’s most prized natural landscapes, Rosebrock Park. Just outside the Summerville area, this tract of land features over two miles of easy hiking and biking routes. The Canal and Live Oak Trails whisk you away from the city and into the quiet, peaceful serenity of the forest. With well marked paths, picnic areas, and future amenities including a canoe/kayak launch and fishing piers, Rosebrock Park is the perfect spot for whole family.

Hutchinson Square
Located in historic downtown Summerville and adjacent to Town Hall, Hutchinson Square is a community park shaded by oak trees and bordered on either side by shops and eateries. The Square hosts a variety of events and art exhibits during the year. In particular, Hutchinson Square comes alive on the third Thursday of each month from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to create a lively community atmosphere and promote local businesses. The event is a hotspot for food, live musical entertainment, and arts and craft vendors.

Gahagan Park
Gahagan Park's 37 acres include four lighted ball fields, a computerized scoreboard, and picnic and restroom facilities. Separate fields, each with its own press box and concessions, are available for softball/baseball teams and football/soccer teams. Adjacent to Gahagan Park is a huge playground; other playgrounds are located throughout the Town of Summerville, including the Laurel Street, Walnut Street, and Alston playgrounds.

Givhans Ferry State Park
Consisting of 988 acres of Lowcountry splendor, Givhans Ferry State Park borders the Edisto River, and is situated at the end of the 21-mile long stretch known as the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail. A kayaker's paradise, the Edisto River is considered to be the longest free-flowing, blackwater river in North America. Whether you plan to visit the park for a day or if you want to enjoy nature's beauty for an extended time, feel free to explore the park's many nature trails and fishing holes, rent a cabin, or pitch your tent at one of the many campsites. The park also has ample picnic tables and shelters for large, family gatherings, in addition to a community building – perfect for all types of events.

Sawmill Branch Bike Trail
Cyclists are able to enjoy the Sawmill Branch Bike Trail in Summerville, a paved, 6.5-mile route. This paved trail is located just outside of downtown Summerville, and is a popular place for walking and bicycling with minimal road crossings. The trail follows the Sawmill Branch Canal and through a wooded area in the southern part of the city.

Francis Beidler Forest
Francis Beidler Forest, located near Harleyville and owned by the National Audubon Society, promotes the conservation of birds and bird habitats. It contains the largest remaining stand of virgin bald cypress and tupelo gum swamp forest in the world. Both nationally and internationally recognized as an old-growth swamp, Francis Beidler Forest welcomes all visitors to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the forest that have characterized the area for centuries. A number of tours are offered to help acquaint guests with this spectacular natural resource. These include boardwalk tours, canoe and kayak tours, guided tours, and nightwalks – all of which provide an opportunity to observe the birds and wildlife that call the forest home.

Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens, located in Berkeley County, is one of the Lowcountry's regional treasures offering an abundance of activities amidst a swamp setting. With over 170 acres of swampland rich in natural beauty and history, Cypress Gardens offers guests the opportunity to enjoy picturesque views along a number of walking trails; take boat rides through the gardens; visit the redeveloped "swamparium" that includes both the aquarium and reptile center; tour the Heritage Room to learn about the area's early history; and don't forget to check out the butterfly house. Cypress Gardens is also a perfect location to mark your next special occasion, such as weddings, reunions, anniversaries, birthday parties, corporate outings, and business meetings.

Francis Marion National Forest
The wildlife enthusiast will love being near the Francis Marion National Forest in Charleston and Berkeley Counties – one of the Southeast's leading wildlife reserves. The game here include white-tail deer, feral hogs, wild turkeys, ducks, rabbits, and squirrels. In addition to the abundance of wildlife, other recreation opportunities abound in this 260,000-acre forest including camping, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and picnicking.

 

Recreation

Edisto River Treehouses
Operated and available for rent by Carolina Heritage Outfitters, world-class treehouses are nestled among the largest, private wildlife refuge on the Edisto River in Dorchester County. Accessible only by canoe, paddlers can experience a serene 13-mile, leisurely ride along the Edisto River before arriving at their overnight accommodations – a comfortable treehouse situated 14 feet above the riverbank. Each of the three Edisto River Treehouses is fully equipped with a furnished kitchen, dining deck, and sleeping loft.

Edisto River Adventures
Located in Ridgeville, Edisto River Adventures offers a variety of kayaking excursions for the nature lover. Kayaking tours are offered at both the beginner and expert levels, including a number of programs tailored for kids, teenagers, and couples. Overnight kayaking tour options are available for those that wish to camp among the stars.

Beaches & Island Communities
As a Lowcountry county, Dorchester has the advantage of an East Coast location that affords access to several beaches, and is close enough to Charleston to explore the many islands that surround the "Holy City." Edisto Beach and Folly Beach are both low-key, family-oriented vacation spots ideal for various water recreation sports, fishing, camping, and picnicking. Of the island communities, Seabrook is a private island resort with golf, tennis, and horseback riding. Kiawah, a well-known luxury resort and residential community, has stunning natural beauty and a world-famous golf course. Sullivan's Island is a largely residential island and the home of historic Fort Moultrie. The Isle of Palms has a beautiful beach combined with lively shops and restaurants.

Lakes
Dorchester County has easy access to the fresh water of Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie in Berkeley County, and the salt water rivers and creeks of the Atlantic Ocean. More than a dozen local marinas offer boat or kayak rentals, sailing lessons, and in-shore and off-shore fishing charters.

Jessen Boat Landing
Jessen Boat Landing, a two-lane public boat ramp, is located in Summerville along the Upper Ashley River that offers a tranquil place for fishing and picnicking. This location also provides a courtesy dock, fishing pier, walking trail, picnic shelters, and paved parking for approximately 40 vehicles/trailers. Ashley River, designated a State Scenic River, offers boaters the chance to experience a blackwater swamp, the tides of the Atlantic, and the history of South Carolina.

YMCA
Dorchester County has three YMCA locations to serve local residents – each offering very distinct facilities and fitness programs. The Downtown, Oakbrook, and The Ponds locations all provide a large variety of specialized exercise classes and youth programs, as well as day and/or specialty camps during school breaks. Throughout the year, the YMCA offers unique activities, such as soccer tournaments, the 10K and 5K Flowertown Run, the YMCA Youth Triathlon, gymnastics programs, and a number of swimming classes. As the newest YMCA complex, The Ponds facility is complete with a basketball gymnasium perfect for youth and adult sports, as well as competitions. Whether you're looking for more community involvement or just a wide range of activities and programs to help you maintain an active and healthy lifestyle – these facilities have something here for everyone.

Golf Courses
Local golf clubs include Coosaw Creek Country Club, Miler Country Club, Pine Forest Country Club, and Legend Oaks, a picturesque club surrounded by 250-year-old oak trees. Wescott Plantation, also in Dorchester County, is owned by the City of North Charleston. There are many more courses in the greater Charleston area, including the legendary links of Kiawah Island and Isle of Palms, for those who don't mind a short scenic drive.