South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area
Property LocationLongs, SC 29568
Latitude: 33.905 Longitude:-78.729
Game Zone: 4
Property Type: Heritage Preserve / WMA Specific
Hours of Operation
The area is open during daylight hours year-round.
Activities / Facilities
The 5,347 acre Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve was established to protect a large, relatively unbroken riverine bottomland hardwood ecosystem that contains several rare plant species. The preserve also serves as an important travel corridor for black bear and buffers an excellent example of a black water river. Black water rivers are so named because of the black color of the water. The color comes from tannic acid that is leached from fallen leaves and other organic matter. Black water rivers originate and flow entirely in the coastal plain and do not have the clay sediments that piedmont rivers have. The Waccamaw River is also unique in that it is the only river originating from a Carolina Bay. Its starts at Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County, North Carolina.
Traveling down the river you will see a classic floodplain forest dominated by bald cypress, water tupelo, water oak, and willow oak. There are also several isolated stands of the relatively rare tree, Atlantic white cedar. Atlantic white cedar was once common in suitable habitat but today exists only in isolated pockets. The wood resists rot and was traditionally used for fence posts and boats. Other rare plant species found on the preserve include Harper's fimbry, Plymouth gentian, pink tickseed, dwarf burhead, dwarf bullrush, and Sarvis holly.
The bottomland hardwoods are home to numerous species of wildlife. Neotropical migratory songbirds are abundant during the spring and fall migrations. The brightly colored prothonotary warbler and wood duck are relatively common. Look for birds of prey like barred owls and Mississippi kites. Other animals like otter, raccoon, and numerous species of turtles are seen along the water's edge.
The Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve starts at the North Carolina and ends just below Horry County Highway 31 at Red Bluff. Floating the river is the best way to view the preserve. You can reach the preserve through one of seven boat landings: Red Bluff, Little Savannah Bluff, Big Savannah Bluff, Star Bluff, Horry's Restaurant, Chris Anderson Memorial Ramp, and Wortham's Ferry. Paddlers can expect to travel 2 mph at low water and 4 mph at high water. Boaters and backpack campers may camp overnight on the riverbank within preserve boundaries. However, the preserve is not contiguous and numerous private inholdings occur along the river.