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Bulls Island Wildlife Trail

Bulls Island, at 5,000 acres, is the largest of four barrier islands found within the Cape Romain NWR. The island consists of maritime forest, fresh and brackish water impoundments, salt marsh, and sandy beaches.

photo: Birding at Bulls Island. Photo by FWS.

Length: 2.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Nature Trail
Agency: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running

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Location: At Cape Romain NWR, NE of Charleston.
State(s): Georgia
Longitude: -79.62084
Latitude: 32.99288

Driving Directions

Located 21 mi. N of Charleston, on Hwy. 17 N, turn right on Sewee Rd., follow a few miles then turn right on Bull Island Rd., about 1 mi. to Garris Landing. 33 mi. S of Georgetown on Hwy. 17 S turn left on Doar Rd. at the sign to Garris Landing for a 30-minute ferry ride.


Live oaks, Sabal palmettos, cedar, loblolly pines, and magnolias are the dominant trees found on the island. Bulls Island is home for deer, alligators, raccoons, and black fox squirrels, but the bird life is what Bulls Island is known for throughout the world.

Over 293 species of birds have been recorded on the refuge with most being found on or near Bulls. During the fall and winter seasons, black ducks, canvasback, scaup, and wigeon can be found in the impoundments. Yellowlegs, dunlins, and sanderlings are viewed on the mud flats and beaches. Waders such as blue herons and American and snowy egrets are plentiful. Warblers, woodpeckers, and raptors abound in the lush forest on Bulls Island.

Perhaps the most photographed location on Bulls Island is Boneyard Beach. Here, hundreds of oaks, cedars, palmettos and pines are strewn along a three mile stretch of beach on the northeast corner of the island; all the result of an ever-changing beach in constant battle with the in-coming surf. Boneyard Beach gets its name from all the downed trees that have been bleached by the sun and salt water.

The History of Bulls Island

Since the early settlements, Bulls Island has been the scene of much historical activity. Bulls Bay and the creeks behind Bulls Island were reputed hideouts for pirates plundering ships along the coast. The remains of the "Old Fort" are believed to have been a martello or lookout tower built in the early 1700s. During the Revolutionary War, British warships used the island to replenish supplies.

Over 240 years, 36 parties claimed ownership of Bulls Island. In 1925, New York banker and broker Gayer Dominick purchased the island. An avid outdoorsman, Dominick built a large vacation home and developed the island into a hunting preserve. In 1936, Mr. Dominick conveyed Bulls Island to the Cape Romain NWR. Historically, from 1940 - 1969, the refuge awarded contracts to concessionaires who offered Bulls Island visitors lodging and meals at the Dominick House. During those 29 years, five concessionaires lived on the island with their families, providing quality services for those who came to the island to birdwatch, fish, photograph wildlife, beachcomb, and archery hunt. Guests came from across the United States, Canada, and other countries including Finland, England, Germany, France, Sweden, and South Africa.

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: None
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail management:
US Fish and Wildlife Service
75 Spring St. SW
Atlantic, GA 30303



Birding at Bulls Island. Photo by FWS.

Birding at Bulls Island. Photo by FWS.


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