I was able to do both of these trails in Francis Marion National Forest, and I also visited the Seewee Educational Center, walked their trail, and visited their endangered red wolves on the same day. With Cape Romain on one side of Hwy 17 and Francis Marion National Forest on the other side, there are so many things to see and do. Sewee Shell Mound is also very close, as is Tibwin.
The Seewee Educational Center has some great single-sheet trail/informational maps, so stop there first.
I’on Swamp Interpretive Trail
I’on Swamp has an easy, 2 1/2 mile loop trail, with interpretive signs on the first half. Being January, it was delightful, I am guessing that in spring and summer, it is a hellhole of mosquitoes and flies and snakes. I had no issues at all on this trip.
The loop takes you along the earthen dikes, past hand-dug canals. This was an active rice plantation in the 1850s, it is amazing how nature reclaims the land.
I’m sure the little boardwalks shown above are surrounded by water much of the year. They are indeed as narrow and rickety as they look.
Halfway Creek Church
On the way from I’on Swamp to Battery Warren, I passed this sad relic on the side of the road. The adjoining cemetery was well-kept, with lots of memorial flowers on many of the graves. The little church has been ravaged by vandals and the unrelenting forces of nature. However, there was a feel in the air of the place being much-loved at one time.
Halfway Creek Church was built in the 1940s. The original building was a log structure, built in 1828. There is a book – “Halfway Creek Church – a Forgotten Chapel” about this place, available in McClellanville, at the Village Museum.
Battery Warren is a short, easy hike, with a bit of a climb as you go up to the high point of the bluff. Any elevation is rare in this part of the state, so it was a nice change of pace.
Battery Warren is a small earthen fort built in 1862, high on the Santee River in Berkeley County South Carolina. The Confederate Army built Fort Warren (as it was called in official documentation) in 1862 as part of a system of coastal defenses in South Carolina. The defense of the coast fell to Captain Christopher Gaillard, who had a minimum number of soldiers to defend the coast. Battery Warren specifically guarded a railroad trestle of the Northeastern Railroad, which connected Charleston to Florence, providing a link between Charleston and Richmond Virginia.
The Confederates built the fort on a bluff in the Santee River, at a location that would prevent Union gun boats from returning fire. By October 1862, the preparations of the fort were being finalized. There were also plans to put obstructions in the river, that would prevent boats from moving up the river past the battery. Whether these obstructions were put in place is unknown.
Little is known about life at Camp Warren, as it was not a major military installation. There are some letters from a Mr. James M. Barr, who claimed that living conditions at Camp Warren were less than ideal. Disease and poor living conditions created casualties at Fort Warren, but the fort never saw action during the Civil War.
Admin, Clio. "Battery Warren." Clio: Your Guide to History. August 10, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://theclio.com/entry/24995
The viewing platform enables you to see all the earthenworks on the land side, and beautiful views of the Santee on the river side. The steps and railings and the platform itself looks (and smells) like it survived a fire, but it was sturdy enough. There was a strange little abandoned thing across the river, that’s what is showing in the third photo below.
The views of the Santee River from the bluff were spectacular, even on a gray day. Quiet, peaceful, and you can see so much more with the vegetation down for winter.
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge / Seewee Education Center
I’on Swamp Interpretive Trail – US Forest Service
Halfway Creek Methodist Church Find-A-Grave