Little Pee Dee State Park will always be one of those places that our family will never forget. But it’s not because of the beautiful scenery or the fun time we had while visiting (though, both of those things are true). It’s because that’s the place where my youngest son lost a third of his pinky finger in a freak swing-set accident.
I’m not even kidding.
You can read the original story HERE. It truly was a very random accident – not the parks fault at all. None the less, our visit ended with a trip to the emergency room, a minor bone amputation (is “minor” even a thing in this situation?) and a story my son will be telling for the rest of his life.
(and he also gave me permission to share on the world wide web…)
Nearly 365 days later, on attempt #2 of our Ultimate Outsider Challenge (the pinky finger thing put a bit of a buzzkill on it last year) we decided to go back to Little Pee Dee. Kain had zero hesitations about returning, and what’s more, as soon as we pulled into the park, he ran out of the car and hopped on the exact swing that “bit” him a year ago.
Kids. I wish I could have an ounce of his fearlessness.
But enough about fingers, let’s get to the review.
Little Pee Dee State Park
On a back road in Dillon, SC, past fields full of cows, you’ll find Little Pee Dee State Park. The 835 acre park is situated in the South Carolina Sandhills region, and is one of only two SC State Parks that include a portion of a Carolina Bay, a mysterious geological depression unique to the Atlantic Coastal Plain (the other being Woods Bay State Park) .
Upon driving up to the park, you’ll notice tons of white sand along the side of the road. If you’re a forever- New Englander (or Northerner) like me, you’ll immediately think: “SNOW!” But it’s not snow. It’s a sand rim that was once a part of the ancient coastline; when waters receded the white sand was left behind.
Little Pee Dee is one of the quieter State Parks, so if you’re looking for an escape from busy places (even busy parks), this is the place for you. The kind of place where you don’t need attractions to be entertained, you can simply settle down in a camp chair with a good book, and enjoy the sound of birds chirping in the trees.
It’s not the most (or even a tiny bit) epic park with sweeping vistas and breathtaking scenery. But it’s quiet, it’s quaint, and sometimes, that’s more than enough. (And spoiler alert: we left this time unscathed and with all of our current digits and appendages…)
Here’s what you can expect at Little Pee Dee State Park:
At the heart of Little Pee Dee State Park you’ll find Lake Norton, a 54 acre freshwater lake. In addition to the 75 foot pier/dock, there is also an easy to access boat ramp.
The lake is controlled with a dam that allows the water to flow peacefully into the nearby bays. Last time we visited, the dam was being repaired after it was destroyed in a hurricane, so the lake was empty. To no one’s surprise: it’s much prettier full of water.
While swimming isn’t allowed in the lake, it certainly makes a gorgeous backdrop for an afternoon picnic or an afternoon in a kayak.
Boating is allowed on Lake Norton. You are allowed to bring your own boat, provided it’s (wo)man powered or uses an electric trolling motor (gas powered motors are not allowed). If you don’t have a boat of your own, canoes, kayaks, and fishing Jon boats are available for rental.
Of course, the highlight of our day was (and almost is) the trail. Walking (or running) through the woods is one of my absolute favorite ways to pass time. The Beaver Pond Nature Trail is the only “official” trail at Little Pee Dee. It’s a 1.3 mile lollipop shaped trail that makes a loop down near the beaver pond / Carolina Bays, and then heads right back to the start. You can access it from the main road, or from a trail head at the campground.
The trail is well marked, and almost as un-technical as you can imagine. Soft pine needles cover the wide (far from single track) trail, with just the smallest hit of an incline/decline as you get closer to the pond.
At the back end of the “lollipop” section of the trail, you’ll find a viewing platform. It’s no surprise that Kain and I didn’t observe any wildlife other than a few songbirds. If you’ve been following along with these reviews, you’ll recognize him as the avid talker who scares all the birds away. At one point while we were silently walking together he goes:
“Hey mom? Do me a favor. Right before you die, can you eat an entire bag of popcorn kernels? Because if we cremate you, it will be EPIC.”
Ladies and gentlemen, my child.
But his loud voice in the woods is OK by me, as I still prefer his company…and soon enough he’ll be a moody teen that wants nothing to do with me.
On our hike back out, another couple passed and asked if we saw the beavers. So I’m going to go ahead and guess there are indeed beavers in the beaver pond.
Little Pee Dee State Park features 32 standard campsites for RVs or tents, and 18 designated tent camping sites . While we have not camped here yet, Kain and I scoped out the campground and decided site 9, with it’s beautiful lake front view, would be one of our first choices.
There is also one shiny new cabin available for rent as well. According to the website, the cabin sleeps four and includes: one set of bunk beds, one full-size bed, coffee maker, mini-fridge, heat and air conditioning, indoor lights and electrical outlets. So fancy.
What’s a beautiful afternoon in a State Park without a picnic? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: food tastes better outdoors.
There are dozens of picnic tables a Little Pee Dee, including: across from the playground (near the parking lot), one large picnic shelter/pavilion:
And a smaller shelter down by the water.
Or, if you’re like us, you can pull up a piece of grass by the damn and watch the water rushing by.
And now for the pièce de résistance, the finger eating playground! Interestingly enough…I don’t have a picture of it. But trust me when I tell you: the kids enjoy it. In fact, during both visits to Little Pee Dee State Park, the playground has been the most popular and crowded place in the entire park!
Know Before You Go:
1298 State Park Road
Dillon, SC 29536
- Admission: Free!
- The park is open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., daily (extended to 9 p.m. during Daylight Saving Time), unless you have a reserved campsite (then obviously, you can stay after closing time!
- The office is only open from 11 a.m. – noon, daily (we discovered this the hard way last year, haha).
For more information, visit the Little Pee Dee State Park page of the South Carolina State Parks website!