Sewee Shell Ring Trail, Francis Marion National Forest (Charleston County, SC)

~boardwalk at the shell ring trail~

~boardwalk at the shell ring trail~

One morning last week I went with a friend and walked the Sewee Shell Ring Trail in the Francis Marion National Forest. It was a beautiful day – the trail is a short one mile (with spurs), and is uneventful until you get to the water, where there is a boardwalk that wraps around part of the shell ring. Here is the description of the trail at

Nature has not been kind to Sewee Shell Mound in recent years. In 1989, this area was ground zero for Hurricane Hugo, and just two years afterward, wildfires swept through. Though the landscape is harsh, it has character and offers wonderful hiking and opportunities for archaeological exploration. For instance, the one-mile Interpretive Trail is an easy loop with two spurs to Native American historical sites. The trail begins as a shady, tree-lined path before moving into a swath of land that has been ravaged by the forces of nature. You will circle a freshwater marsh before joining a spur to the Sewee Shell Ring. Actually an ancient trash pile of oyster rings discarded by Native Americans, the ring is 4,000 years old and on the National Register of Historical Places. It’s the best preserved of a number of similar shell rings found along the East Coast. Another spur trail leads to a mound of discarded clamshells made by Native Americans on the shores of the Intracoastal Waterway. There are five interpretive stops and a 120-foot boardwalk overlooking the prehistoric shell ring.

How often do you get to see something that is 4,000 years old?

You can read more about shell rings in the Southeastern US in the National Park Service document “Archaic Shell Rings of the Southeast U.S.“.

Other useful links:

Sewee Shell Ring Trail map

USDA Forest Service

USDA Forest Service Printable Guide

Indian Sites of South Carolina