August 2010: Huntington Beach State Park

Myrtle Beach, SC

The land for this park was once part of the 10,000-acre Brookgreen Gardens created by Archer Huntington, step-son of Collis P. Huntington, one of the builders of the Transcontinental Railroad. He purchased the former rice plantation to display the works of his wife, sculptor Anna Hyatt and others. When it was opened in 1932 Brookgreen was the country’s first public sculpture garden. Huntington State Park, which includes about 2,500 acres - mostly marshlands - was founded in 1960.

There are two formal trails here, both completely contained under a maritime forest. The Kerrigan Nature Trail is a short planks-and-pine straw affair that leads to an overlook of the freshwater lagoon (the saltwater marsh can be viewed via an elevated boardwalk). The one canine hikers will want to sample most is the Sandpiper Pond Trail, a rolling, sandy romp past an interdune pond. The Atlantic Ocean beach can be used to close a 2-mile loop on this out-and-back trail. Viewing platforms are spaced along the route that serve as ideal resting spots for your dog after trotting through thick sand. For many dogs the best part of Huntington State Park will be the three miles of undeveloped beach. To leave the sunbathers behind park at the boardwalk and head north on the beach. You will reach a jetty in 1.2 miles.

Archer Huntington was one of the leading authorities on Hispanic culture outside of Spain. He designed the Moorish castle on the estate from memory after studying the architecture of the Spanish Mediterranean Coast. The elegant one-story home is enclosed by 200-foot walls on each side and dominated by a 40-foot square tower. The Huntingtons named their home Atalaya, a Spanish term for watchtower. In addition to the horse stables and dog kennel, a bear pen was included in the construction. Atalaya is open for tours daily.

Three miles south of town on the ocean side of US 17.