It’s just a tree. But if you’re the kind of tree hugger who has a book about identifying trees on your shelf or the type leaf lover that is willing to hike a few miles to check out a particularly extraordinary tree, you may understand the draw to see this tree sitting beside the road in South Carolina. It’s not as big as the trees out west, but to people on this side of the Mississippi it’s pretty special. Angel Oak [3688 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC 29455] is a Southern Live Oak estimated to be 400-500 years old. It’s 66.5 feet tall and has a circumference of 28 feet. That’s a pretty big tree. Not technically in Charleston (25 minutes away), yet a visit to Angel Oak is on many tourists list of things to do before leaving the city. We were heading through Johns Island on our way back from the Tea Plantation, so I had to stop by and give this specimen the once over.
The tree is located in a park, fenced off, and has specific hours for viewing so make sure you’re going when it’s going to be open! We parked in the crowded lot and took just a few steps to join the people mulling about under the shade of the tree which covers 17,200 square feet. It’s a massive beast, sprawling and romantic. The branches are thick and drape onto the ground. Some are supported by planks. You’re not allowed to climb the tree, there are many signs right beside the trunk that let you know. Between the signs and the many other people around, it’s a challenge to get a picture of the tree alone.
Walking around the outskirts will give you a number of different perspectives.
Keep circling until you find that perfect shot, people, signs, and all, that grabs the magic of this majestic being.
After viewing, photographing, and bear hugging this beautiful tree, take a peek in the gift shop. You enter through the back, closest to the tree, and there is an enclosed area where a lady is selling her amazing sweetgrass baskets. Inside the main building there are all sorts of items with pictures of the tree ranging from magnets to coffee cups and calendars. There are some really interesting items in here, especially the books that shed light on the Gullah culture that is found throughout the Lowcountry. All and all it shouldn’t be too long of a visit. I can see why it’s such a popular attraction, there is something special about being in the presence of an old and noble part of nature.