A trail consisting of white sand will lead you through a sea of bright green ferns and ultimately to an animal observation platform at Martin’s Lake. From there, you can set off on a 10 kilometre circular hike that leads to the northwest. The concentrated collection of biodiversity at the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge awaits you along the way (190 types of birds, 42 types of mammals, 41 types of reptiles, 25 types of amphibians, 62 types of butterflies and moths, 56 indigenous types of bees and more than 800 types of plants).
Like our excursion to Table Rock Mountain in northeastern South Carolina, we see the charred remains of trees, the result of controlled fires that are necessary in this habitat with pyrophytes (plants that have adapted to tolerate fire). We walk between flatland hardwoods, highland pitch pines and open pine grasslands, which are criss-crossed with brooks (some of which are dried out). The needles and the cones of the longleaf pines can grow to lengths and sizes of 20 centimetres to 45 centimetres, a strange site to anyone from Central Europe. With a little luck, you may just run into the two rarest types of animals that populate the area: The “Pine Barrens tree frog” and the red-cockaded woodpecker make their homes here. You will also find all sorts of lightning-fast lizards, jumping deer, a wide variety of birds, huge red dragonflies and yellow butterflies the size of your hand.