Camping & Exploring at Lee State Park – Bishopville, SC

If you love adventure, I implore you to surround yourself with adventurous people. Because it’s those type of people who will message you on a random afternoon and ask if you’d like to join them for a camping and mountain bike excursion in just a few days time. And that is exactly how we ended up camping & exploring Lee State Park.

Heather Hart mountain biking Lee State Park
Towed my own RV all the way from the beach…

If you asked me, prior to that weekend, where Lee State Park was located, I would have shrugged my head and said “I don’t know. South Carolina…somewhere?” When it comes to exploring the outdoors here in the Palmetto State, my mind instinctively wanders to two places: the mountains or the coastline. It only makes sense, those tend to be the most scenic – and of course, most popular locations.

But out of the 47 State Parks we have here in South Carolina, 24 are considered to be “Midlands” parks – that vast space in between the mountainous upstate region and the lower coastline. Hidden in those midlands are some very unassuming, but none the less, beautiful and relaxing outdoor spaces.

Visiting Lee State Park, Bishopville, SC

Exploring Lee State Park

As it turns out, Lee State Park is located in Bishopville, South Carolina. Or, less than two hours North West of where we live in Myrtle Beach. This 2,839 acre park was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, in order to provide riverside recreational opportunities for the residents of Lee County.

The highlight of this park is the fact that it is a potential playground for equestrians and their horses alike. The park boasts 23 campsites specifically for equestrian camping, 12 miles of equestrian trails, a show ring, and stables.

I, however, know very little about horses. Other than the fact that they are very large, and kind of intimidating (but I do like them). So unfortunately that will be the extent of what I share about my horsey friends. Truth be told – in the entire 48 hours we were at the park, I didn’t see a single horse. Likely due to it being July in South Carolina (it’s ridiculously hot and buggy). So on to the rest of the highlights:


The campground at Lee State Park features 25 standard campsites, and as mentioned above, 23 equestrian sites. Our party would end up staying in the equestrian sites, because they were open and available. And as it turns out, you don’t need a horse to stay in one. We did, however, have the cutest dog you’ve ever seen.

Camping & Exploring Lee State Park
Not a horse.

All of the campsites have  water and electrical hookups, which I know is important to my RV’ing readers. Or those who just like to keep their phone charged (of that I am guilty).

Campground at Lee State Park
Big, spacious campsites.

I’ve been to a number of parks where the campground leaves you feeling little to no privacy. The sites are practically on top of one another, with little to no trees or shrubs separating sites. This was not the case at Lee State Park – at least not at our campsite. Granted, the park was far from full, but I definitely felt that we had plenty of space.

But let’s get to a hilarious highlight of the weekend, at least for the ladies of the equestrian side of the campground:

Clear shower curtains at Lee State Park

THE SHOWER CURTAINS IN THE BATHHOUSE WERE CLEAR. (And no, there wasn’t another door or shower curtain to the changing area you can see at the foreground of the photo)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m known for running my naked body around strangers (true story). Being naked doesn’t bother me. Having strangers see me naked (as long as they aren’t being creepy) doesn’t bother me. But this was…odd, to say the least. I even asked my husband if this was the case in the men’s bathroom. He laughed and said no, and I could tell almost didn’t believe me until I provided photographic evidence.

So yeah, that’s you’re warning. Clear shower curtains. Perhaps it’s temporary?

Mountain Biking / Running / Trails

As mentioned above, there are 12 miles of specific horseback riding trails. Seeing as there were no horses around, we attempted to ride our bikes down one. After about a half mile of fighting deep sugar sand, we turned around. Those are better left for the horses.

Horse Trail sign at Lee State Park

There are other options for the explorer types:

Trail marker

Loop Road

The loop road is a 5.25 mile dirt road that loops around the park. The road is indeed wide enough to drive down, and I guess is usually open to traffic. However, when we were there, it was closed to vehicles. I’m guessing that is because the road is prone to flooding from the Lynches River that it follows.

Riding bikes along the Lynches River at Lee State Park

The road is an easy ride or run, with a lot of cool things to see along the way. There are a handful of artesian wells on the road, and even an old fishing cabin.

Well and cabin at Lee State Park

Pro tip: those wells are an incredible place to cool down mid ride (run, or hike). Don’t worry, the water is fast moving and ice cold.

Cooling off in a well at Lee State Park

I both rode my bike and ran this loop, multiple times, and really enjoy the quietness. But…don’t forget your bug spray. The yellow flies are ruthless, and will bite even while you are moving.

Running down Loop Road at Lee State Park

Floodplain Trail

The Floodplain trail is a one mile loop that starts near the main parking lot and education center, and loops around the swimming pond. Here you can find two more springs, a long boardwalk that takes you into a marsh/swamp area, and plenty of grassy places or picnic tables to rest.

Riding bicycles at Lee State Park
Wooden boardwalk at Lee State Park
Artisan wells at Lee State Park

Sandhills Trail

At only a half mile long, the Sandhills trail is the most “true” single track trail in the park. Though, when we asked, the ranger suggested we did NOT ride our mountain bikes on it…so we walked instead.

The entire trail was lined with Harry Potter themed houses – similar to the popular “fairy house” trend, making this a fun walk if you have little ones (or if you are a Harry Potter fan).

Harry Potter themed fairy houses at Lee State Park

This trail was beautiful and secluded – definitely worth exploring.


There is a teeny, tiny swimming area available at Lee State Park. Having lived here on the coast for so long, I’ve become accustomed to three swimming situations:

  • The ocean
  • Swimming pools
  • Alligator infested fresh water

As a New Englander, born and raised, I truly miss swimming in fresh water without fearing for my life. Yeah, I’m going to be dramatic about it, did you see that video of the alligator attacking the kayaker in the Waccamaw (the river I live on?) Anyway, I miss floating without keeping one eye out for dinosaurs and the other trying not to get sucked into a riptide.

Swimming at Lee State Park

Lee State Park has a tiny little swimming area that is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. It’s teeny tiny, which made for a bit of a challenge during these social distancing times, but it was worth the dip. Being a small pond, the top half of the water was tepid – almost hot. But the bottom half of the water was ice cold, thanks to the cool springs that feed into the pond. It was a really cool sensation.

River Access

According to the Lee State Park website, access to the Lynches River is “limited” within the park. And that’s true…but it didn’t stop our adventure crew.

We found a place to haphazardly put our kayaks and paddleboards into the river. And by “haphazardly”, I mean I fell in, and two of my friends got stuck in shin deep mud. It was hilariously entertaining on all of our parts.

River access at Lee State Park

Nevertheless, once we got on the water we enjoyed a few hours of paddling up, and then floating back down, the swiftly moving river.

kayaking on the Lynches River

We did have to get out and portage around some fallen trees a few times. So perhaps, as mentioned on the website, local boat ramps outside of the park might be a better option.

Muddy legs from the Lynches River


Back in April, while participating in a virtual Adventure Race, my husband Geoff and I discovered the wonderful world of Geocaching. I wouldn’t say we are “avid” geocachers, but when we remember it’s a thing, we are happy to (environmentally responsibly) stomp through the woods to find a cache.

Lee State Park has several caches on site, both from the free version, and the upgraded paid app caches as well (we don’t do those…yet. Give it time, I’m sure we will).

Geocaching at Lee State Park

Would I go back to Lee State Park?

While nothing at Lee State Park jumped out as a tourist destination, I’d still most definitely go back. In fact, the lack of crowds lends to it’s appeal. Lee is the kind of campground that I would certainly head to if I was simply looking to escape to the woods without having to drive too terribly far from home. The facilities were clean, the campground host and rangers were super friendly, and the forest incredibly peaceful. Definitely put this one on your list.

Know Before You Go:

  • Location: 487 Loop Rd, Bishopville, SC 29010
  • Admission: free!
  • The park is open from 9 a.m. – sunset, daily, unless you have a reserved campsite (then obviously, you can stay after closing time!
  • There is an Education Center on site that includes and exhibit hall and a wet lab. However, as we were there during COVID-19, it was limited to one person or one family at a time, and I didn’t get a chance to check it out.

For more information, visit the Lee State Park page of the South Carolina State Parks website!

About Heather

Hi. I'm Heather. Exercise physiologist by day, adventure seeker...also by day, and sometimes night. I like: mountains, running long distances, rabbits, sleeping in tents, poking at campfires with a stick, and Gordon Lightfoot. I dislike: peanut butter, bent tent poles, sitting still for too long, and writing "about me" sections.