Francis Marion Exploring

Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
Hey, Im planning on driving down to Hell Hole Swamp and Francis Marion National Forest Area on Sunday to do a little exploring. Has anyone been here? Good place for trail riding and any tips? according to the map I found online it looks like a maze of trails and lots of fun.
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Messages
1,360
Location
Weilerbach, Germany
 
Hey, Im planning on driving down to Hell Hole Swamp and Francis Marion National Forest Area on Sunday to do a little exploring. Has anyone been here? Good place for trail riding and any tips? according to the map I found online it looks like a maze of trails and lots of fun.
I've hunted most of the FM over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, the main roads are fairly well maintained (no challenge for a Prius) and the others are closed. There are a lot of rule breakers out there, for lack of a better term. They would tear down the "road closed" sign and play dumb, so the USFS, said, ok, we'll play too. Roads can be closed but not posted and the responsibility is on you to know, i.e., get a map. I've never had a problem and common sense will usually tell you if a road is open or not, even though the vast majority of closed roads are clearly posted or gated.

If you don't mind a little walking, Blue Springs and Battery Warren are a couple good hikes with a point of interest. The Hampton Plantation is really interesting and you only have to pay if you want to go inside the mansion. One of my favorites is Bonneau Ferry WMA (off of Hwy 402 next to the FM), go to the Coming Tee plantation house, now in ruins, and hike down to the rice mill on the river. Double check the kiosk to make sure its open on the day you go. Sunday is the best day since hunting isn't allowed on any public land.

One rule, after you go, you must post pics and give an account. Enjoy.
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2008
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Mt. Pleasant, SC
 
 
You can pick a map at the WMA/DNR off Copperhead Rd. I hear they are mostly helpful as long as you go with a good attitude.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
I saw a video of a guy exporing FM in his Xterra on Youtube. The roads all looked gravel, but it looked beautiful. Not really wanting to Offroad, just to ride some trails and explore some new terrain. If I get the tires a little muddy I'd be happy. My plan was to call the rangers office tomorrow and ask what roads are open, and if there are any fees I need to pay etc. Im just dying to get off some pavement and take some pictures
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Messages
1,360
Location
Weilerbach, Germany
 
You can pick a map at the WMA/DNR off Copperhead Rd. I hear they are mostly helpful as long as you go with a good attitude.
That's the former Witherby Ranger Station, its now a work center and no offices. They combined both Ranger Stations into one, and thats located on Steed Creek Rd halfway between Hwy 41 and Halfway Creek Rd. Agree, they're most helpful.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
Called the Rangers Office today. She said that some Roads are closed and others remain open, they should be marked if the signs arent stolen. She said that theyre really rough, but with a good 4x4 I should be fine. I plan on being careful and treading lightly. I'm very excited to explore, get a little muddy, and visit the gun range.
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Messages
1,360
Location
Weilerbach, Germany
 
Called the Rangers Office today. She said that some Roads are closed and others remain open, they should be marked if the signs arent stolen. She said that theyre really rough, but with a good 4x4 I should be fine. I plan on being careful and treading lightly. I'm very excited to explore, get a little muddy, and visit the gun range.
One rule, after you go, you must post pics and give an account. Enjoy.
@mdeane, Did you break the rule? How'd it go?
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
Hey, Well I haven't quite broken the rule, Ive been twice in the past two weeks. And I plan to go once more this week. I'm actually mapping out the roads that Im exploring, noting any that are overgrown, muddy, and fun for us "offroaders" Im also noting any scenic areas, campsites, and old ruins on site. All in all Ive had a great time going down there, Ive found a few easy mud holes that the locals have dug out. One of these actually swallowed my 35s and got my pretty tipsy. I visited the gun range as well down there and had a blast. Im thinking of going friday or sunday, whichever day is wetter. I'll be posting pictures in the next few weeks, and posting a map with annotations. Most of the forest is just bumpy gravel roads, but there are certainly some fun spots to be found.

Aside from the holidays, Ive been working on my girlfriends LR3 the past few weeks, so the FZJ is on the backburner. However I did put on a TrailGear Front Tuber bumper for Christmas.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
So the mapping of the forest, and posting of my vids and other photos will have to wait... My Girlfriends LR3 is having rear diff problems that I need to address, and then this week the stock front shocks rusted out of my Fzj80.. so Ive got bilsteins on the way and I may lift it.... for now here are a few phone shots of the forest. In my 1997 Discovery locked on 35s


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CharlestonG8R

Hey y'all!
SILVER Star
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
3,476
Location
Charleston, SC
 
So the mapping of the forest, and posting of my vids and other photos will have to wait... My Girlfriends LR3 is having rear diff problems that I need to address, and then this week the stock front shocks rusted out of my Fzj80.. so Ive got bilsteins on the way and I may lift it.... for now here are a few phone shots of the forest. In my 1997 Discovery locked on 35s


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Dang! I haven't seen any of the Francis Marion Forest, this looks pretty cool. Side note, I've seen a Disco in Summerville that looks similar to yours.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
I plan on making a few more trips in the upcoming months to finish mapping out the best roads to ride on. I love my Disco, but sometimes it can be frustrating. Not many Rovers run 35s, but I will say that mine triple locked and slinky suspension will take on any trail in the Southeast. Some country kids in a squatting chevy pickup took me too "one nasty mudhole" in the forest a few weeks ago.. After I drove through it in 4Hi, stopped halfway, drove out, then reversed through it. They said..."So thats one of them land rovers, damn" lol Next trip I'll take the Cruiser
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Messages
1,360
Location
Weilerbach, Germany
 
Blue Springs road is now open (Hwy 45 in Shulerville, just down from the recycle center). I'm not sure if they fixed the 2 mudholes. You can park at the end and its a short walk to Blue Springs. Its spring-fed and back in the day, a popular swimming hole.

Dang! I haven't seen any of the Francis Marion Forest, this looks pretty cool.
We should make a day trip to the FM in the spring. Its not much for wheelin', but worth checking out.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
I spoke with a Ranger, and she said it was fine to explore, just abide by the road signs and don't tear stuff up. When it warms up I'll be going again to continue mapping the more scenic/interesting trails. Most of it I've seen is just dirt roads and pine trees
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Messages
1,360
Location
Weilerbach, Germany
 
I spoke with a Ranger, and she said it was fine to explore, just abide by the road signs and don't tear stuff up. When it warms up I'll be going again to continue mapping the more scenic/interesting trails. Most of it I've seen is just dirt roads and pine trees
The colder the better. The no see'ums may come back the day after a hard frost if it gets in the 60s. You'll enjoy it more when theres no hunters, so now until turkey season opens is a great time.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
Didn't think about that, I'll do another run next weekend if its decent weather. I've been told to check out "Old Georgetown Road" all also check out Blue Springs Road. "Conifer Road B" looked like nobody had been on it in ages, and there was a really deep mudhole part way
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
100
Location
South Carolina
Hey, Its been a few months since I've been on here... Had a s*** Spring due to my mom passing away (she was only 57) anyways I'm going to go exploring FM forest tomorrow since it'll be raining. I hope to find some waterlogged trails. If anyone is off tomorrow (Monday 22nd) more vehicles is better!
 
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