Manchester rules & maps
You will need a permit for any activity other than hiking at Manchester State Forest; this includes using the rifle/pistol range and riding horses, ATVs, motorcycles and bicycles. Permits are not required for hikers using the trails.
- Daily permits are valid for the date of purchase only.
- Individuals 16 years of age and older are required to have a permit in their possession.
- Individuals 15 years of age and younger must be supervised by an adult 21 or older with a permit.
- Manchester’s rifle and pistol range requires its own permit, which you must purchase directly from the staff at the range.
- All other recreational permits can be purchased online through sc.gov or at the Manchester State Forest office during regular business hours.
Boating / fishing
There are four ponds and several creeks available to the public for year-round fishing. Only electric motors are allowed on the ponds. A valid state freshwater fishing license is required to fish on Manchester State Forest. Fishing licenses can be purchased online through the SC Department of Natural Resources’ Online Customer Service Portal.
Manchester State Forest, along with a non-contiguous tract called Oak Lea, are included in the SC Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Wildlife Management Area (WMA) program as part of a cooperative agreement between SCDNR and the SC Forestry Commission. SCDNR sets and regulates the methods of harvest, bag limits and other requirements for hunting on WMA lands, including Manchester and Oak Lea.
Hunting seasons and regulations for Manchester State Forest are published in the SCDNR Rules and Regulations Brochures. Maps of the hunting areas on Manchester are available at the forest headquarters.
All persons must wear international orange on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). A law passed in May 2015 requires deer hunters to wear international orange on all South Carolina WMAs. Specifically, the act requires that “all nonexempt persons must wear a hat, coat or vest of solid international orange while on Wildlife Management Area lands during deer hunting season.”
WMA regulations exempt persons hunting for dove, turkey, ducks, geese and other migratory birds, including crow, from the requirement of wearing international orange. All other persons on a WMA during deer season
must wear international orange.
- View/download the Manchester State Forest WMA map.
- View/download the Oak Lea WMA map.
- View/download a complete list (and graphics) of all South Carolina WMAs.
Public lottery hunts
Manchester State Forest also hosts public lottery dog hunts every year, each in a different compartment of the forest.
2022 Public Lottery Dog Hunt Application
There will not be an Oak Lea WMA draw hunt. Please see the SCDNR rules and regulation Hunting and Fishing guide for dates and more information.
Manchester is host to three different sections of the Palmetto Trail, which runs through the middle of the forest. Parts of the Palmetto Trail can be ridden by horse, as can other trails throughout the forest. Separate trails have been designated for horses and motorcycles/ATVs. View/download Manchester State Forest’s all-trails map, which includes the horse trails.
Trail use dates and hours
- Trails and roads designated as Equine Trails on this trail guide are open from sunrise to sunset on Sunday only during deer hunting season from September 15 through January 1.
- All trails are open daily from January 2 through September 14.
- Riders should take safety precautions when riding from January 2 through April 30 (small game and turkey seasons).
- Night riding on the trails is allowed from January 2 through September 14 provided the following safety guidelines are followed.
- The horse and rider combination must wear a minimum of four highly reflective items with a least two of them visible from all sides of the horse.
- Acceptable equipment includes the following reflective items: horse ankle wraps, tail wraps, bridle covers, brow bands, stirrup dangles, personal vests, helmet covers, arm bands, and ankle bands.
- A crossing guard will be at all points where the horse trail crosses a road and shall wear a minimum of four highly reflective items.
- The crossing guard shall be positioned in a highly visible location until all horses have passed and use a suitable flashlight with sufficient brilliance to aid vehicular traffic in seeing horses crossing the road.
- The Poinsett Blue Trail is open from sunrise to sunset daily for an additional fee.
- A section of the Palmetto Trail is open to equine use daily.
- Riders should take safety precautions when riding the Palmetto Trail during all hunting seasons.
- Use caution when overtaking another, and make your presence known in advance.
- Obey all trail markings and crossings.
- Obey gate closures and signs.
- Ride to the right and single file.
- Pack out what you pack in.
Off-highway-vehicle (OHV) riding
Manchester State Forest offers a large area with three different trails for OHV riding, which is open to motorcycles and all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs). View/download Manchester State Forest’s all-trails map, which includes the OHV trails.
- All OHV trails are marked with directional arrows.
- OHV riders must wear a helmet, and bikes must be equipped with a spark arrester.
- Safety helmets and eye protection meeting standard FMVSS #218 are required.
- All ATVs must have Age Restriction Warning Label and be operated in accordance.
- All ATVs must have effective muffler system, approved spark arrester and a brake system in good operating condition.
- It is unlawful to operate an all-terrain vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance or in a reckless manner.
- Riding motorcycles or ATVs on roads is unlawful.
- Motorcycles: Individuals 16 and older are required to have a permit in their possession. Individuals 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult 21 or older with a permit.
*Chandler’s Law, effective July 1, 2011 – Title 50, Chapter 26
- No one 5 or younger is allowed to operate or ride on an ATV.
- Individuals 6 to 15 must possess a safety certificate indicating successful completion of “hands-on” all-terrain vehicle safety course approved by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute.
- Individual 16 or younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian with a permit.
Manchester State Forest is a beautiful setting for bike-riding on the trails. Please visit Manchester State Forest’s Bicycling page for more information, including maps, safety precautions and rules and regulations. View/download Manchester State Forest’s all-trails map, which includes the bike trails.
Trail use dates and hours
- Helmets are required.
- The K3, Hardcore and Campbell Pond Loop trails are open from sunrise to sunset on Sunday only during deer hunting season from September 15 through January 1.
- The K3, Hardcore, and Campbell Pond Loop trails are open daily from January 2 through September 14. Riders should take safety precautions when riding from January 2 through April 30 (small game and turkey seasons).
- Night riding on the K3 and Hardcore trails is allowed from January 2 through September 14 provided the following safety guidelines are followed.
- Every bicycle, when in use after sunset, shall be equipped with a visible light from the front and a reflector visible from the rear.
- Caution shall be taken at all road crossings along the trails.
- The Poinsett Connector Trail is open from sunrise to sunset daily for an additional fee. Contact the Manchester State Forest office at (803) 494-8196 for more information.
- Sections of the Palmetto Trail are open to bicycles daily as outlined on the Palmetto Trail Map. Riders should take safety precautions when riding during all hunting seasons.
- Parking for trail use is allowed only at the designated staging area as indicated on the trail map.
Rifle and pistol range
Manchester also has an outdoor rifle and pistol range operated by temporary employees. The range consists of a 50-yard pistol range and a 100-yard rifle range. Both ranges have covered benches and an on-duty range safety officer.
Rules of the range
A. All persons will familiarize themselves with all published and posted rules and disclaimers prior to utilizing the range.
- Due to safety requirements, all parking will be done on the hilltop except for on-duty staff, volunteers, handicapped individuals, and designated personnel. Vehicles may be driven inside the range area for the purpose of loading and/or unloading only.
- Proper hearing protection and eye protection is mandatory for all persons utilizing this facility.
- While in transit to and from the range facility, all firearms shall be unloaded and will either be cased or have their actions open. Open carry holsters are prohibited from being worn on the range at any times by anyone.
- All persons will sign in at the Range Office with the Range Master prior to approaching either firing line.
- Shirts and close-toed shoes will be worn at all times.
- Fully automatic weapons, three-shot bursts, extreme rapid fire (less than one second between shots), and tracer/incendiary ammunition are prohibited; no more than ten (10) rounds shall be loaded in ANY magazine regardless of the magazine’s capacity.
- SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT! All firearms will be treated as if loaded at all times. Muzzles will be pointed downrange at all times. Anyone ignoring the precepts of safe gun handling or of violation of the posted/published procedures will be expelled from the facility.
- Rifles and handguns will be restricted to their respective ranges at all times. Persons desiring to fire handguns at the 75 and/or 100 yard ranges shall make prior arrangements with the Range Master. After said arrangements, firing will then only be done at the 75 and/or 100 yard ranges from the designated position.
- Shotguns equipped with both a front and rear sight or telescopic sights and firing SLUGS ONLY may be fired from a rifle position.
- All other shotguns may be fired from the shotgun patterning position only. NO EXCEPTIONS!
- Alcohol is prohibited on the range; eating, smoking, spectators, non-shooters, pets, open flames, and the use of cell phones is prohibited on the firing lines.
- Children will be under parental control at all times. Only one child at a time will be permitted on the firing line with an accompanying adult. Any and all other children, not actively engaged in shooting, will remain off and away from the firing line and under the supervision of a non-shooting adult.
- Rifle shooters under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an experienced shooter of not less than 21 years of age.
- Pistol shooters under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an experienced shooter of not less than 21 years of age.
B. On the firing line
- All firing shall be done at paper targets only.
- Shooting will be restricted to one shooter at a time per position; shooting position assignments will be on a first-come basis. Should all shooting positions be filled, a one- hour time will be imposed based upon sign-in time with the Range Master.
- The Range Officer controls ALL activities on the firing line AT ALL TIMES.
- Upon the command “Cease Fire:”
- All weapons will be unloaded and magazines removed, if removable.
- Actions will be locked back and remain open.
- Weapons will be grounded with the muzzles pointing downrange and ejection port facing upwards.
- Shooter will step to the rear away from the shooting position.
- Shooters will have no more than one weapon accessible at any one time.
- Should a shooter experience a weapon malfunction, the Range Officer will assist the shooter in removing the malfunctioning weapon to the range safety pit for repairs by the shooter. The Range Officer is not required to assist in the weapon’s maintenance and/or repair.
C. Upon completion of firing, the shooter will perform the following:
- Return the target frame to the closest range.
- Pick-up all “brass”, to include ALL rimfire and steel surplus military cases, and place said cases into the proper designated receptacle.
- Remove ALLstaples from the target cardboard backing; sign out with the Range Officer
- Return the target cardboard backing to the Range Office.
- Sign out with the Range Master.
Additional social-distancing precautions in place until further notice:
- Every other shooting position will be closed to ensure social distancing;
- Shooters will be limited to ONE (1) hour on the range so that others can utilize the facility, once the range reaches full capacity;
- The Range Officer will maintain a running list of the shooters who are waiting. Shooters are to remain in parking lot while maintaining social distance;
- The range will NOT be loaning out equipment, such as rifle rests, brass pickers, etc. Bring your own equipment
- Staplers will be cleaned after each use.
Activities NOT allowed on Manchester State Forest
- Altering of trails
- Drugs or alcoholic beverages
- Picking or cutting plants
- Firearms (while riding or hiking)
- Pets (unless on a leash)