The Francis Marion is a forest literally steeped in history. Today the Francis Marion National Forest remains a lush landscape of pine stands and wildlife-filled swamps and marshes shaded by towering bald cypress trees. Four wilderness areas, one with a marked canoe trail, offer visitors a unique opportunity to glimpse the wild landscape as it might have appeared earlier in history.
More recently, the Francis Marion has been in the process of recreating itself. In 1989 Hurricane Hugo’s 130-mph winds leveled more than a third of the forest. In following years, the resulting resurgence of young trees and understory shrubs posed a heightened threat of catastrophic fire and presented the forest with an unprecedented problem to dispose of the dense vegetation. Forest managers met the challenge by converting the chipped forest biomass into an energy source for local power; this practice continues today.
The Francis Marion is home to a variety of wildlife, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. It spans nearly 259,000 acres, and offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities ranging from hiking, biking, motorcycle and canoe trails to rifle ranges and a boat launch.
The Francis Marion National Forest is located in the coastal plain of South Carolina and is bounded to the north by Santee River, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The forest is situated between two major metropolitan areas: Myrtle Beach (30 miles to the north) and historic Charleston (40 miles to the south). This part of coastal South Carolina is a popular tourist destination, well-known for its freshwater and saltwater recreational opportunities, golf and tennis, beautiful coastal scenery and historical landmarks dating from prehistoric times through the Revolutionary and Civil War eras.
The climate is hot and humid in the summer and is generally mild in the winter.
History buffs, please check Al Hester's Francis Marion National Forest history in the first paragraph above. Need more? Try http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/marion-francis/ !
Officially designated in 1936, the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests encompass more than 629,000 acres throughout South Carolina. These lands are managed by the USDA Forest Service for multiple uses including watershed protection and improvement, timber and wood production, habitat for wildlife and fish species (including threatened and endangered ones), wilderness area management and recreation.
The forests provide the American people with a diverse set of outdoor opportunities on four ranger districts in South Carolina (the Andrew Pickens, the Enoree, the Long Cane and the Francis Marion). Whether you enjoy hiking or riding trails, paddling, fishing, hunting, camping, birding or simply relaxing at one of our picnic areas, the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests have something special waiting for you!