Poinsett State Park, nestled in the heart of sunny South Carolina's Midlands region, is the ultimate vacation destination for RV campers. Whether you and your camping crew are after a little peace and quiet or you're searching for a thrilling adventure in nature, Poinsett State Park has activities and amenities to accommodate your needs.
There's no better place to enjoy the lush wetlands which characterize South Carolina's Low Country than Poinsett State Park. Aptly nicknamed "the mountains of the Midlands," this hilly region of the state boasts terrains of all types, from sandhills complete with arduous climbs to the calm and quiet Levi Mill Lake.
This varied ecosystem allows for all kinds of outdoor activities, from hiking, boating, and fishing in the summer to birdwatching, picnicking, and geocaching during the off-season. The state park sprawls over 1,000 acres and connects to the Manchester State Forest, where campers and visitors can find even more activities and scenic sights to enjoy.
RV campers who consider themselves history buffs will feel right at home at Poinsett State Park, thanks to historic structures like the old grist mill, coquina bathhouse, and rustic cabins built by Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
If you're planning an RV trip to Poinsett State Park, though, beware of bugs! South Carolina is infamous for its insect population. Mosquitoes will may be a problem down by the lake in the summer, and the Spanish moss at the park, though beautiful, may hide "chiggers," tiny bugs with an incredibly itchy bite. Pack plenty of bug repellent in your campervan and avoid the Spanish moss and you'll be ready for an exciting RV adventure.
Located an hour and a half north of Charleston, an hour southeast of Columbia, and just over two hours south of Charlotte, North Carolina, Poinsett State Park is easy to access via major highways. Those camping at Poinsett State Park in RVs up to 40 feet long should have no trouble driving around the park. The main internal road through the park is paved, but the roads in the campground are packed dirt and gravel, so be mindful of mud after a rain. RV and trailer sites are level, gravel, and back-in.
The park is easily traversable by foot, bike, and regular car or truck. If you're walking along the hiking trails in the park, watch your step on the wooden footbridges. The terrain is mostly packed dirt, and good hiking shoes are recommended for exploring the park.
If you're not staying at Poinsett State Park overnight in an RV, a spacious parking lot is located a short walk away from the lake and one of the park's restrooms. This is the only parking area apart from the campgrounds. The parking lot isn't shaded, so keep this in mind if you're visiting during the summer.
Poinsett State Park's campground offers a total of 50 sites spread across two loops: one for RV campers and one for tents. Of those 50 sites, 24 include water and electric hookups and can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long, while the remaining 26 sites are reserved for tent campers and come with water. A primitive group site that can accommodate up to 200 campers is also available.
Each individual site comes with its own picnic table, fire ring, and water. If you're camping in an RV at Poinsett State Park, you'll enjoy convenient access to restrooms and hot showers. A dump station is also available. Sites cannot accommodate awnings or slide-outs due to the dense tree cover. Dogs are allowed to accompany both tent and RV campers.
Sites are available by reservation only. Campers must reserve their site at least three days in advance. Those who are unable to reserve their site within this time frame must contact the park directly.
Forgot to pick up some necessary supplies for your RV camping trip? The quaint, historic town of Sumter is just six miles down the road, and you'll find gas stations and grocery stores just eight miles away. The park is also convenient to Columbia, the state capital, where you can find all the creature comforts you could need or want.
If you want to forego the camper or tent, Poinsett State Park has five rustic cabins built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps available for your use. These five cabins sleep four each and come complete with all the amenities you'll need, such as electricity, heat, and air conditioning. You'll love the screened-in porches where you can kick back, relax, and sip some sweet tea like a true South Carolinian. Guests will need to bring groceries, and outdoor chairs and a lantern are recommended. Wi-Fi is available. However, if you're bringing your dog along for your camping trip, note that pets are not allowed in the cabins.
After a morning of hiking or biking in the warm Carolina sun, you will probably want to cool off, and the best way to do that is to take a dip in the Poinsett Park Lake. The swimming area is a nice no-wake zone of the lake with a sandy shore and picnic area right off the beach. Swimmers will love the crystal clear water and enjoy playing on the beach. Make sure to have a flotation device handy and never swim alone. Poinsett State Park does not have a lifeguard on duty, so you'll be swimming at your own risk.
Poinsett State Park's extensive trail network offers several hiking paths of varying lengths and difficulties. For an easy trail but with some distance, set out on the Whippoorwill Trail, a 6.2-mile walk where you can check out the abundant wildflowers along the way. If you are looking for a shorter but more vigorous trail, you'll want to hike the 2.7-mile Coquina trail.
Some of the best trails at Poinsett State Park connect to Manchester State Forest, like the Palmetto Trail, the park's most popular route. Many trails here, including the Hilltop, Laurel, and Bowline Trails, are under a mile long. If you're looking for a challenge, try the Knot Trail. This three-mile route features steep ascents and descents, but the views you'll enjoy of the lake along the way make the legwork worth it.
Poinsett State Park's ten-acre lake is a popular destination for avid anglers. Catfish and bream tend to be the catch of the day here, though it's unclear whether there's a catch-and-release policy in place. RV visitors looking to fish will require a South Carolina state fishing license. On your fishing excursion, you'll want to watch out for cottonmouth snakes — this venomous species is often found near freshwater lakes and ponds and packs a brutal bite.
RV campers who enjoy being on the water rather than in it will be pleased to discover that Poinsett State Park offers boat rentals. Whether you're looking to go kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding, you can rent a watercraft at the state park for an hourly fee. Private boats are also permitted to launch into the lake; however, there are additional restrictions for private boats, so be sure to double-check any requirements before towing your own watercraft to the park.
If you enjoy hiking with a good treasure hunt thrown in, geocaching is for you. There are several geocaches in the park. You can go online to download the GPS coordinates and head out to search for the hidden trinkets left by other hikers before you. Snap a picture with your treasure and put it back in the exact location where you found it for the next adventurer or replace it with something else. Make sure not to disturb the ecosystem or doing any damage to the area when you bury your treasure. It's a great way to exercise, see nature, and test your navigation skills.
Though South Carolina typically enjoys mild temperatures all year round, some activities won't be suitable for the colder months. If you're planning an RV trip to Poinsett State Park during the winter, don't forget to bring your binoculars along! You'll find several prime areas for birdwatching. See if you can spot a red-bellied woodpecker drilling away at one of the park's countless pine trees, or the stunningly blue belted kingfisher diving into the water in search of dinner.
For those RV campers who prefer to keep things calm and casual, picnicking at Poinsett State Park is a wonderful activity. The park's four covered picnic shelters are usually available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you're planning a family reunion or large get-together at the park, advanced reservations are required. The picnic areas only offer picnic tables. Picnickers are permitted to bring their own grills. Additionally, there are a few single-family picnic areas with tables and ample shade to enjoy during your RV stay in the park.
Biking is a popular activity that campers enjoy year-round at Poinsett State Park. Most of the hiking trails are open to cyclists, including the Palmetto Trail and the Knot Trail. If you plan to go biking in the connecting Manchester State Forest, you'll need to acquire a permit. Want to take your cycling obsession to the next level? Visit the park during the Knot Mountain Bike Race event in early spring. The winner of this killer 12-mile course will get a cash prize, and an intense workout to boot!
The park has other races throughout the year as well, and the race course at Poinsett State Park is famous for its mix of ecosystems and challenging hills, known as the "Mountains of the Midlands." Even if you aren't inclined to enter one of the races, you can still enjoy these world-class trails during your RV adventure.