Audubon Center & Sanctuary at the Francis Beidler Forest

Come and experience the most historic location in the Charleston area! The ancient trees, the wildlife, and the quiet flow of blackwater all await you. Frequented by nature photographers from all over for its unique landscape and dynamic ecosystem, the swamp at Beidler Forest offers a beauty unsurpassed by any other nature sanctuary in the South Carolina lowcountry. Here, 1,000-year-old trees and native wildlife abound in a pristine sanctuary that has been untouched for millennia.

Visit our visitor information page to learn more about admissions and directions.

Beidler Forest sits within the Four Holes Swamp, a 45,000-acre matrix of black water sloughs and lakes, shallow bottomland hardwoods, and deep bald cypress and tupelo gum flats. Four Holes Swamp is also a major tributary of the Edisto River, part of the Charleston area’s famous ACE basin. Over 17,000 of the swamp’s acres are owned by the National Audubon Society and make up what is known as the Francis Beidler Forest, which is less than an hour from Charleston and Columbia and located just north of I-26 outside the town of Harleyville, SC. It is easily accessed from either I-26 East or West, as well as I-95.

Beidler Forest was originally established to preserve 1,800 acres of old-growth swamp forest, one of only two such stands still left in the state. A 1.75-mile self-guided tour along the boardwalk trail allows visitors the chance to safely venture deep into the heart of the swamp... to experience the peace and serenity that have characterized the area for centuries... to hear the sounds of bird and bug and breeze that have echoed through the trees for ages... to take a relaxing and informative walk back into time... to see a swamp the way nature intended. No pets, please.

For those with iPhones or iPod Touches, there is a free boardwalk-specific app that contains all the information in the printed guidebook plus additional text and images to cover the gaps between the stops associated with the printed guidebook.  The app should be downloaded prior to your visit.  For our German speaking guests, wir haben hier den Exkursionsfuhrer auf Deutsch zu herunterladen.

Canoe and kayak trips and naturalist-guided tours, bird walks, summer camps, and activities are also available seasonally and by reservation. The visitor center, restrooms and boardwalk are all wheelchair accessible. One electric and one traditional wheelchair are available to borrow.

Interested in bringing a school class on a field trip? Check out our Field Trip Resources.

A Journey Through The Francis Beidler Forest by Mac Stone