The History of Sea Pines Forest Preserve

The Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve was formally opened on June 1, 1971.

Charles and Joseph Fraser of the Sea Pines’ founding family filed legal covenants in 1970 dedicating the 606 acres in the Preserve as a Wildlife Habitat and Outdoor Recreation Facility.

It was specifically created so that we might all enjoy and appreciate the varied bounty of our very special natural environment.

The Forest Preserve is one of Hilton Head’s finest assets. Many visitors consider a visit to the Preserve the highlight of their visit here, as it offers an insight into the value of land left in its natural state for thousands of visitors to enjoy.

Within the Preserve, there is a Shell Ring made by Indian Moundbuilders 4,000 years ago – built about the same time as the Pyramids! Locals used to say that the Ring had some religious significance, but scholars say that the Ring was created around a campsite
and old oyster shells form its base. Ancient artifacts have also been found there to give the historians insight into the Indians’ daily life.

The Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve provides an oasis of valuable natural habitats in an otherwise heavily developed coastal island. The “Forest” describes the varieties of trees and plants, including the pine woods, live oak forest, fresh water marsh and the endless varieties of grass. Depending on the time of your visit, you might be able to enjoy the spectacular wildflower meadow in full bloom by Lake Thomas or herons nesting by the thousands on the shores.

The wildlife in the Preserve is renowned and you will probably pass alligators basking in the fishing lakes or sunning themselves on the banks. The Hilton Head Whitetail Deer population is also very prolific, although rarely spotted during daylight hours.

Over 200 species of birds have been spotted in the Preserve and the area has been recognized as an “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society. Ornothologists come from all around to view the birdlife in and around Lakes Mary, Thomas and Joe.

Lawton Stables offers one-hour guided Western-style trail rides into The Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve on gentle horses for adults and children at least eight years old, in addition to Summer Riding Camps for beginner-intermediate riders, a Summer Academy for advanced riders, private riding lessons, pony rides and a free animal farm. Call (843) 671-2586 or visit for more information and reservations.

Courtesy of Lawton Stables