Hell Hole outings: It's more fun and pleasant than it sounds

Image by David Rumsey CollectionImage by 20080905hellhole.jpg Hell Hole Swamp has famous routes going back to the Revolutionary War, it's marked in this 1773 map of the Charleston area.

Visit Hell Hole? Really? Yes, really.

But when you go to the Hell Hole Outdoor Center, you won't see much of 2,000-plus acre Hell Hole swamp, as the the center is only named after it, but you will get chances to see thousands more acres of "sprawling southern cypress forests and compelling black-water creeks and swampland," as the Palmetto Conservation Foundation puts it.

[gmap markers=blue::33.405059717022425,-79.9225115776062 |markers=gray::33.167444534375925,-79.69207763671875 |zoom=9 |center=33.1237508297102,-79.85687255859375 |width=220px |height=320px |control=Small |type=Map] Gray dot: Hell Hole Swamp; Blue dot: Hell Hole Outdoor Center.

The area is a key part of Berkeley County's nature offerings, and part of South Carolina's effort to create more than 425 miles of contiguous trails from one end of the state to the other. The trail is known as the "Palmetto Trail."

But why name the center after Hell Hole? The area has a good chunk of history to offer, most of which is rooted in its extreme nature. Wikipedia says:
The origin of the name Hell Hole Swamp is unknown, although there are a couple of theories. One account says that the swamp got its name during the American Revolutionary War from Colonel Banastre Tarleton because the British had great difficulty finding the elusive General Francis Marion. Another explanation is that it was named for being a repository for bootleggers during the Prohibition. Both theories are proved false because they are predated by the 1773 James Cook Map of South Carolina which locates the Hell Hole Swamp.

The Post and Courier was intrigued and went to see, an excerpt:
Well, if you're into hiking, kayaking or canoeing, biking on trails, bird-watching and/or visiting historic sites, you may want to head to the new Palmetto Trail Hell Hole Outdoor Center at St. Stephen and find out about those activities that are available in one of the most overlooked places in the Lowcountry: upper Berkeley County.

The Post and Courier also has a bunch of great photos from the area.

If it sounds like your thing, there's an opening festival on Saturday and there's tons of hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking events coming up. Head over to The Post and Courier for details on Saturday's events.

There's also a Hell Hole Swamp Festival in May.