How old is the angel oak tree in charleston south carolina

The History of the Angel Oak Tree

When picturing the beauty of Charleston, SC one of the first things that comes to mind for many are are the southern live oaks, with their graceful sweeping branches draped with Spanish moss. Native to the Southeast, these trees decorate the landscape of the Lowcountry with elegance. Many of these live oaks are very old, dating back hundreds of years, and perhaps the oldest and most well-known of them all is the Angel Oak Tree.

Located on Johns Island, about 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, SC, the Angel Oak is figured to be one of the oldest living southern live oaks in the region, with an estimated age off somewhere between 400 and 500 years.

In addition to being one of the oldest trees in the southeast, Charleston’s Angel Oak Tree is also one of the largest. It measures up to 65 feet tall at its peak, with its branches reaching a circumference of over 26 feet, with a shaded area covering over 17,000 square feet.

This breathtaking natural beauty draws over 400,000 visitors per year, ranging from tourists hailing from all over the world to locals who have called Charleston home for their entire lives.

The land where the Angel Oak Tree stands was originally part of the land granted by the government to colonist Abraham Waight in 1717. He had a daughter named Martha who married a man named Justus Angel in 1810, and the Angel family and their descendants owned the property until the mid 1900s. The Angel Estate is where the Angel Oak Tree gets its name.

In 1991, the land was officially purchased by the City of Charleston, who now operate the area as a public park. This includes a gift shop, bathrooms, and fairly strict set of rules that are mainly in place to help preserve the tree’s natural beauty. The Angel Oak Tree is also a popular spot for couples to take engagement photos, and the city even grants permits to get married on the property.

Photo by Mike Norton.

Maintaining the Angel Oak Tree is a hefty task, because while the tree is blessed with the strength of age, its branches are heavy and touch the ground in many places. They have been supported by posts and steel wires in the more stress prone areas.

There is also a conservation effort spearheaded by Lowcountry Land Trust that is dedicated to protecting the 36 acres of forestry surrounding the Angel Oak, as it is a hot area of interest for developers looking to build on the property.

In a city that has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty, from beaches to stunning marsh views, the Angel Oak stands as one of the most amazing sights in all of Charleston. It is certainly worth seeing, though I would recommend going during an off time as the park can get crowded on the weekends.

As of my writing this, Angel Oak Park is open 9am to 5pm every day except for Wednesday. Find it at 3688 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC. Check out the official Charleston County Parks website for more info.

Trippy artists rendition of the Angel Oak Tree. Artist unknown.

Everything You Need to Know About Seeing the Majestic Angel Oak Tree in Person

Just outside the city of Charleston, South Carolina lies one of the south’s oldest and most fabled flora: the Angel Oak Tree.  

You don’t need to be an arborist to appreciate its majesty. While its 65-foot height is nothing to scoff at, the true awe-factor of Angel Oak Tree is its outward growth. Many of its limbs are so wide, they’re as thick as trees themselves—some even rest on the ground.

Unlike other trees, Angel Oak Tree seems to invite you into it: and once you’re under its canopy, your eye will be drawn every which way to admire the whimsical shapes its branches make. All in all, the canopy provides 17,000 square-feet of shade—more space than six average-sized homes.

We highly recommend a visit to this South Carolina landmark. Here’s everything you should know before you go.

How old is Angel Oak Tree?

Angel Oak Tree’s age has been a topic of debate, but the consensus agrees that it’s about 400 to 500 years old.

Records show that the land the tree grows on originally belonged to South Carolina’s Cussoe tribe. By the 1700s, the tree was part of the estate of a wealthy man named Abraham Waight. The land and tree stayed in the family for generations and served as the wedding site of Waight’s descendants Martha W.T. Angel and Justus Angel, for whom the tree is named.

In its life, Angel Oak has weathered countless storms and serious natural disasters. It’s also bore witness to many eras in South Carolina history. Local folklore claims that the tree’s name also alludes to the ghosts of slaves from the plantation the land used to belong to that appear around the tree at night.


Where is Angel Oak?

Angel Oak Tree is located in Angel Oak Park, just a half-hour from Charleston and Kiawah Island off Maybank Highway. The official address for the park is 3688 Angel Oak Road, Charleston, SC 29402.


When is the best time to visit Angel Oak?

Angel Oak’s hours are from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday and 1 pm to 5 pm on Sunday. Check the Charleston Park Conservancy calendar to plan your trip around special events or celebrations.


What can I expect from my visit to Angel Oak Tree?

In order to protect this precious natural relic, no climbing or carving is allowed at the Angel Oak. Blankets and chairs are also not allowed on or under the tree.

But that doesn’t mean you have to just snap a photo and go. Picnic tables are available on the outskirts of the tree’s canopy. Bring lunch—or pick up a tomato pie or peach cobbler from nearby Blackbird Market to share while spending some time marveling at the Angel Oak’s majesty.

There’s also an onsite gift shop where you can find Lowcountry souvenirs and memorabilia to bring home.


Where can I stay near the Angel Oak Tree?

If you’re planning a trip to Charleston area, you can enjoy natural beauty throughout your whole stay when you book with Kiawah Island Getaways. Our selection of scenic-view rentals offer delightful spots to appreciate Mother Nature’s handiwork, including decks overlooking marshland or screened porches shaded by maritime woods. Or opt for an ocean-view rental and admire the crashing surf, soaring coastal birds, and Kiawah Island’s population of dune-dwelling deer.

Ready to daydream? Browse our selection of luxury vacation rentals.

Angel Oak - Secret World

Angel Oak - Secret World