Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve to charge $1 admission fee starting in June

Special to The Current

Starting June 1, the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve park on the northeastern end of Folly Island will begin charging an admission fee of $1.

Owned by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC), Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve lies near the former site of the old Coast Guard station and has beautiful views of the Morris Island Lighthouse. The property is regularly visited by people for uses such as lighthouse viewing, surf fishing, beachside strolls, wildlife observation and photography. The site also offers many diverse birding opportunities and is a regular site for organized bird walks.

Attendance at Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve has been tallied since October 2015 via a laser tracking system. Over 10,000 people visited the property in December 2015 alone. Fees collected from visitors will help offset maintenance costs. The $1 fee will be collected via a kiosk at the trailhead, where a park map, site rules and other visitor information will be posted. These changes will make the park consistent with other unstaffed CCPRC facilities like Laurel Hill County Park and the Wannamaker North Trail.

Funds could also potentially support future planning initiatives for the property that could include improved parking, an interpretive center, open shelters, boardwalks, and other uses.

“Collecting the dollar admission fee helps not only to cover maintenance and preservation costs of the property, it also allows us the opportunity to possibly improve the site in the future,” said CCPRC Executive Director Tom O’Rourke. “Instituting user fees allows us to keep this beautiful property as a county park without having to impact the tax base.”

The property is located near 1700 East Ashley Ave. on Folly Beach, at the northeastern terminus of Folly Island and adjacent to Cummings Point. Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve played a significant role in the Civil War and was also used throughout the twentieth century by the US Coast Guard, remnants of which can be seen on the property. It is also a prime viewing spot for the landmark Morris Island Lighthouse, and offers captivating ocean and marsh views.

In addition to oceanfront land, Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve contains marshland and maritime forest habitats that are home to diverse species of plants and animals. Portions of the property are nesting sites for threatened loggerhead sea turtles and threatened Wilson’s Plovers. Some of the grounds are also migratory stopover areas and winter roosting sites for threatened and endangered Piping Plovers. Plans are in place for protecting these habitats. CCPRC hosts guided bird walks at Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve once every other month.

The passive park offers minimal parking available on East Ashley Avenue. No restrooms or concessions are available at the site. Swimming is not allowed. Dogs are not allowed. Other prohibited activities include trespassing in dunes and wooded areas, the use of metal detectors, any disturbance to natural and cultural resources, camping, hunting and others.

Admission to the property will be covered by the annual Gold Pass, which allows entry to 11 other county parks for a full year. For more information, call (843) 795-4386, visit, download Charleston County Parks’ mobile app,

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