A Hidden Gem
A history lesson and scenic nature trails await at Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens in Little River.
As you drive south on U.S. Highway 17 and cross the state line into Little River, South Carolina, you’ll find a beautiful marsh boardwalk and numerous nature trails at the scenic Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens (VMHG) in Horry County. But don’t blink or you’ll miss this hidden gem.
Vereen Gardens is tucked away among the trees, and the entrance sits back off the main road. The gardens, wetlands and nature trails are set on 114 acres northeast of Glen Dornoch Golf Links, along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The land was originally owned by the Vereen family until 1971, when they donated it to the Horry County Historical Preservation Commission. In 1973 VMHG opened to the public, and today the park is maintained by the Horry County Parks and Recreation Department.
As you pass through the gate at the park’s main entrance and walk (or drive) just a short distance, you come upon the Vereen Family Cemetery. You’ll find grave markers for members of the Horry and Vereen families dating back to the 1600s. Starting with Samuel Horry and his wife, Jeanne DuBois, the family’s lineage is clearly mapped out on a large monument in the middle of this small cemetery. It is a lesson in history to discover and read about those who are laid to rest here.
As you move farther into the park, you discover that there are three main trails (red, blue and the main road) that take you to woodland hiking areas, a marsh boardwalk, the Intracoastal Waterway and spots along the water to stop and explore. All side trails lead back to one of the main trails.
If you park near the boardwalk and walk past a pavilion, you get a glimpse of the first picturesque view of the marsh framed by towering cedar trees.
As you move to the south, you encounter gray squirrels looking for food at the base of magnificent trees and fiddler crabs scurrying across the path.
Soon you find the entrance to the boardwalk, and a pristine image of the Intracoastal Waterway comes into view. Stop and listen to appreciate the calm and quiet of the late morning.
Birds of all types are spotted in the marsh and along the waterway.
Continue along the boardwalk, which takes you along the south side of the park and onto a beach area covered with oyster shells. This is where you find the Wishing Tree. Shells are hanging from the large, drooping branches to signal the presence of those who traveled before you and the wishes they made.
Turn to the west and find the entrance to the blue trail. Along the path, you may meet other hikers. After walking and straining your necks to see the tops of the massive trees nearby, you land back in the parking lot. Azaleas, native shrubs and wildflowers line the main road leading in and out of the park. Visit again in April to see these plants in their full glory.
At the main entrance to the park, adjacent to a large parking area, is the C. B. Berry Community Center, which opened to the public in 2008. The center is used for community meetings, historical exhibits and education. The facility was named for C. B. Berry, who originally asked Jackson Vereen for the donation of the land and served as chairman of the VMHG board for more than 30 years.
Whether you’re a historian or a nature lover, you’ll find many reasons to visit and explore Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens in Little River. It is a true hidden gem.
Want to visit?
Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens
Horry County Parks and Recreation Department
2250 SC Highway 179, Little River
The park is open from dawn until dusk.