The very large (2100 acres) urban forest Hitchcock Woods is smack in the middle of Aiken. Traffic struggles daily as commuters, service vehicles and families back and forth to school and church are forced to circumnavigate the privately-owned forestland. There will never be roads through it. The 4.8-mile portion of limited-access Hitchcock Parkway (SC Hwy 118) directly adjacent along the western edge funnels more than 15,000 vehicle trips every day, thousands more than it was constructed to handle. The location of Hitchcock Woods proximate to all of and prominent in Aiken stifles this community's growth and residents' easy enjoyment of this region.
It is not considered a walkable community. Aiken's location in the countryside, away from the coast and near the Georgia border, might not be appealing to everyone.
Hitchcock Woods Foundation, the owner of Hitchcock Woods, uses prescribed (also referred to as controlled) burning to manage their forest. Among its directors' goals is restoration of the natural ecosystems of Hitchcock Woods, to a snapshot view of what this region looked like 10,000 years ago. The burn occurs daily, weather permitting, sometimes more than a hundred acres in one day. Smoke dispersal is a chronic concern. The resulting heavy smoke and particulate travels throughout the entire town. Occasionally, especially with an evening weather inversion, the smoke settles at ground level. The burns will continue forever. The adverse health implications of exposure to this type of air contamination are well documented. The Hitchcock Woods burn stunts the growth of Aiken.