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Sand Hills State Forest

Did you know Sand Hills State Forest is managed under federal endangered species requirements that protect the red-cockaded woodpecker and its habitat? It also features a unique geologic feature named Sugar Loaf Mountain, an isolated hill of bedrock called a monadnock, which stands conspicuously above the relative flatness of the Pee Dee region in which the forest is located. Sand Hills’ 46,000-plus acres are perfect for exploring, fishing, hunting, horseback riding and camping.

About Sand Hills

Aerial of Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugar Loaf Mountain has been a traditional gathering place for more than a century; today it is maintained as a day-use recreational area and overnight camping site for families and other visitors.

Part of a unique ecosystem in South Carolina, Sand Hills State Forest is located in Chesterfield and Darlington counties, stretching from the eastern Piedmont to the inner coastal plain. The region is characterized by generally arid conditions with deep infertile sands deposited by a prehistoric sea. From 1935-1939 the federal government purchased tracts of land from local landowners as a relief measure under the Resettlement Administration. These landowners were resettled on more fertile land elsewhere. The land was managed as a state forest by the SC Forestry Commission under an agreement with the US Department of Interior from 1939 until 1991 when title was transferred to the state.
Since its aquisition, Sand Hills has been used as a demonstration area for forest management. During the early years, the objective was to restore the land, to allow it to heal from erosion and misuse, and to protect it from the wildfires that burned annually.
Because wildfires, improper logging and poor farming practices had almost eliminated timber production, an intensive reforestation project was initiated in the 1990s, with particular emphasis on re-establishing native longleaf pine. In conjunction with the reforestation effort, a wildlife management program was started to improve habitat. An active prescribed burning program reduces fuel accumulation, perpetuates the longleaf pines, and stimulates the production of seed bearing plants for wildlife food. As a result of such efforts, the once-barren sand hills now support a large inventory of timber and a variety of game and non-game species.

Of special note
Like all the state forests managed by the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Sand Hills State Forest receives no state appropriations from the General Assembly and is 100% self-sustaining. Operating funds for the forest, as well as salaries, are generated from the sale of timber products, land leases, Wildlife Management Area (WMA) permits and recreational use permits.
Additionally, Sand Hills State Forest pays 25% of its gross income to the local school districts in the counties in which the forest is located.

Things to do

Permits

You will need a permit for horseback riding at Sand Hills State Forest. Permits are not required for hikers using the trails or for others using the day-use areas, picnic shelters or ponds; however, reservations are required to use the picnic shelters and can be made by calling the forest office directly.
Recreational permits for horseback riding can be purchased online through sc.gov or at the Sand Hills State Forest office during regular business hours.

Sugar Loaf Mountain / day-use facilities

Kids climbing Sugarloaf Mountain
Take a hike to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Sugar Loaf Mountain is worth the trip to Sand Hills State Forest itself, with its expansive views of the Pee Dee’s forests stretching for many miles. Hiking the earthen steps to the top of the monadnock is a favorite pastime for visitors and natives alike, and a large day-use area with picnic shelters is available to reserve by calling the forest office directly.

Horseback riding

Horseback riding on SHSF
horseback riding

Sand Hills boasts more than 30 miles of horse trails for equestrian enthusiasts as well as a large area for horse trailer parking near Mountain Pond that contains several corrals. Overnight camping for horse groups is available at eight equine sites throughout the horse trailer parking area. Call the Sand Hills office to make equine camping reservations: (843) 498-6478.
Please visit Sand Hills State Forest’s Rules & Maps page for more information, including maps, safety precautions and rules and regulations.

Camping

Camping at Sand Hills State Forest

In addition to camping for horse groups, Sand Hills State Forest offers 20 primitive campsites available for reservations. Eight campsites are in the Sugar Loaf Mountain recreation area, six of which have accompanying sheds. Four additional sites are available, one with an accompanying shelter at Campbell’s Lake and three other single campsites without sheds at Hunter Pond, Lee Pond and Sexton Pond, respectively.
Call the Sand Hills office to make camping reservations: (843) 498-6478.
Please visit Sand Hills State Forest’s Rules & Maps page for more information, including maps, safety precautions and rules and regulations. The Sand Hills State Forest Campsite Information page gives detailed information and photos of each campsite on the forest.

Boating / fishing

Fishing from pier at Sand Hills State Forest

Thirteen ponds, stocked with bass, bream and catfish, are open for fishing year-round. Fertilization in the summer and water-level regulation in the winter months help maintain the biological balance necessary for fish production. A valid state freshwater fishing license is required to fish on Sand Hills State Forest. Fishing licenses can be purchased online through the SC Department of Natural Resources’ Online Customer Service Portal.

Hunting

Sand Hills State Forest is 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 Sand Hills.
Please visit Sand Hills State Forest’s Rules & Maps page for more information, including maps, safety precautions and rules and regulations.


Sand Hills State Forest is managed on the public’s behalf by the South Carolina Forestry Commission. For more information or questions, please contact Sand Hills State Forest Director Brian Davis at bdavis@scfc.gov or (843) 498-6478.

Sand Hills State Forest
16218 Highway 1
Patrick, SC 29584
Phone: (843) 498-6478
Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. / 12:30-4 p.m.