A Treehouse Getaway on the Edisto River

Edisto River
jofwooster/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

Paddle about twelve miles down the cypress-lined, Blackwater Edisto River to a private tree house nestled in the woods along the riverbank. Relax in a rope hammock or on the dining deck, complete with an outdoor grill for cooking dinner, and fall asleep to the woodland lullaby of rustling trees, croaking frogs and hooting owls. Wake the next day to the sounds of morning wildlife song and chatter and prepare breakfast on the small gas stove before continuing down river.

Provided by Carolina Heritage Outfitters, this unique adventure attracts an array of outdoors enthusiasts, including couples, groups, and families from around the nation and abroad. Family travelers should note that, in the interest of safety, children should be ages 11 or older to stay in the tree houses, although the company is working on creating a safe tree house environment for younger children. The leisurely 22 mile trip is divided into about 12 miles on day one from the put-in to the tree houses and 10 miles on day two to the end of the trip at the Refuge Outpost.

While most visitors choose to stay one night, additional overnights can be arranged.


Three rustic and secluded tree houses, located within the private 150-acre Edisto River Refuge, sleep up to four, six or eight people and are available year round with the exception of a few days during the Christmas holiday. The tree houses are situated out of sight of each other around the edges of a quiet river peninsula, bordered by a creek at the neck creating almost an island. There is no electricity or running water. Outhouse facilities are located near each unit. Each tree house features:

  • A small kitchen area with a table and chairs, propane stove, pots and pans, plates and utensils
  • A dining deck with an outdoor gas grill
  • A screened sleeping loft with one or two futon mattresses depending on the size of the unit
  • Futons on the main level that fold out to accommodate an additional sleeping area
  • Rechargeable lanterns
  • A swinging rope hammock
  • A few gallons of drinking water
  • A few games such as dominoes and playing cards

Visitors pack and transport their own food supplies for all meals. Other items to bring include sleeping bags, pillowcases, and towels. Carolina Heritage Outfitters provides a list of other suggested items to pack for your adventure.

The Edisto River

The Edisto River is a free-flowing, slow-moving river that winds its way through 12 counties from West Central South Carolina to the Atlantic Ocean. At more than 250 miles in length, it is one of the longest blackwater rivers in North America. Depending on the time of year and the corresponding water levels, the Edisto River current flows at between two and four miles per hour, making downstream paddling easy and relaxing, consisting mostly of steering.

A bustling Lowcountry ecosystem, the Edisto River, and its wooded banks are home to moss-draped cypress and willow trees, waterfowl including great blue herons, egrets, and wood ducks, as well as turtles, river otters, alligators, wild turkeys, woodpeckers and many other woodland birds, deer, raccoons, bobcats, frogs and many other wildlife wonders. The dark copper or tea color of the river water, which appears as a glassy black surface from a distance, is the result of tannins released from the surrounding vegetation.

The Edisto River Refuge

A private wildlife refuge, the 150-acre Edisto River Refuge is the largest private wildlife refuge on the longest, free-flowing blackwater river in the Southeast. There are several miles of hiking trails, cypress and tupelo swamps, sandy river banks and a sandy, shallow river bottom. In addition to the tree houses, there is a primitive group camping area. In addition to tree house overnights, Carolina Heritage Outfitters offers canoe and kayak day-trips including a safety orientation, personal floatation devices, and transportation from the endpoint outpost to the launch point.

Location of Carolina Heritage Outfitters

Canadys, South Carolina - 3 miles from Exit 68 on I-95, approximately 90 minutes from Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. The Carolina Heritage Outfitters Outpost is on US Route 15, about one mile north of the State Highway 61 intersection.

For additional information, visit the Carolina Heritage Outfitters Web Site.