• Angel Oak: A true Southern gem

    By: Amy Trainum

    Updated:

    While most of the South is beautifully decorated with historic oaks, there’s one majestic tree that overshadows the rest.

    Angel Oak, located on Johns Island, S.C., resembles something out of a fairy tale. The tree’s massive, outstretched limbs twist and cascade gracefully from its thick trunk all the way to the ground as if it’s opening its arms, welcoming visitors. There’s an indescribable peacefulness that surrounds the oak; a feeling you can only get when you’re standing in awe of something magnificent, created by Mother Nature.

    Remarkably, the regal tree has withstood countless hurricanes, floods, an earthquake and two wars.

    Though there are disputes about how old Angel Oak actually is, it is believed to be one of the oldest living trees in the entire country. Age estimates range from 400 years old, all the way to 1,500 years old.

    To say Angel Oak is enormous is almost an understatement. Its canopy stretches to almost 20,000 sq. ft. providing plenty of shade during the hot, sticky summer months. Its longest branch reaches close to 187 ft., with a circumference that is easily wider than the trunk of many trees.

    The name is said to have come from the land’s original owners, Martha and Justis Angel. However, local folklore suggests otherwise. Stories passed down over the decades say the name originated when the ghosts of former slaves resembling angels were spotted around the tree!  

    It may be off the beaten path compared to a lot of the local Charleston attractions, but this is a must-visit. There is nothing else like it. On any given day, you can see photographers spending hours trying to get the right angle and lighting to really showcase the true beauty of the gentle giant, but the best way to experience it, is to see if for yourself.

    Angel Oak Tree Park is open seven days a week and is free to visit. Hours are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Saturday and 1 - 5 p.m. on Sunday. There is also a gift shop and picnic area to enjoy.

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