Updated with visitor information on Friday, Oct. 13
Something green is coming to Charleston, and we’re not talking about St. Patrick’s Day. A new state park is in the works at the tip of James Island. We spoke with SC State Parks Director Paul McCormack for the latest on the project.
Where will it be located?
The waterfront park will be located on 23 acres at the end of Fort Johnson Road, adjacent to the Fort Johnson historic site. The parcel is managed by the SC Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.
In 2021, the state purchased the land from the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy for $23 million. The May Forest Convent located on-site is expected to be converted into an event venue that will be the main component of the new park. Funding has not yet been secured for the venue construction project.
What will the park feature?
Charlestonians can look forward to a day-use recreation and picnicking area with views of the Charleston Harbor, the Ravenel Bridge, and Fort Sumter. There is an existing gazebo and bench swing. Conceptual images are not yet available, but stay tuned.
An event space, lodging, and a dock may be added in the future. A structural assessment of the property is expected to determine park features down the road. What would you like to see this new park offer? Let us know.
In addition, there is a master plan that envisions the entire ~100-acre Fort Johnson area that is separate from the state park project.
What is the timeline?
The park is expected to open this spring or summer. There is currently no timeline for potential future amenities, but keep an eye on the newsletter for updates. The plans for Fort Johnson, which surrounds the state park area, are long-term.
May Forest launched its soft opening phase. The new state park on the northeast waterfront of James Island offers views of the Charleston Harbor, Ravenel Bridge, and Fort Sumter, plus woodland and fields abutting the shore.
The park is far from finished — but you can stroll for yourself now.
In case you missed it
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources bought the 23-acre park land from the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy for $23.25 million in 2021.
May Forest State Park and the ~100-acre Fort Johnson area make up a long-term development plan including updated trail access, greenspace, historical interpretation, and research campuses.
The park is located at 424 Fort Johnson Rd. Since it occupies one tip of James Island, navigating is easy: just follow the road to its end and follow the signage for visitor parking.
During the soft opening phase, the park is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays, grounds only.
May Forest is currently hiring a park ranger. Once they do, you’ll be able to visit on weekends, too.
What to expect
Currently, May Forest offers walking trails and four picnic tables to unwind by the water. Pets are welcome in most areas, but you’ll need to keep them leashed.
As the park grows, look forward to an event space at the old May Forest Convent, overnight accommodations, and dining options.