By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

Curious visitors who travel beyond Middleton Gardens through lower Dorchester County woods are apt to stumble onto this burgeoning place.

So will sightseers out of Summerville who drive west across the creek-like headwaters of the Ashley River.

As it turns out, developers eyed the property as far back as the 1970s. A couple of attempts to build sprawling neighborhoods were truncated, leaving the site largely unchanged, But about 20 years ago, things took off.

The result? Rather than vacant ex-plantation land dotted with oaks and sporting a legend or two, the scenic property edging wetlands, rivers and trees became Legend Oaks Plantation.

Here’s how a neighborhood homeowners association describes the community:

“The area is characterized by lovely old oak trees, some over 250 years old, and streams and wetlands that connect to both the Ashley and the Stono Rivers.”

More than 600 homeowners live at Legend Oaks, which when completed will include about 1,500 houses. Scores of new-home builders and some custom designers have framed brick and fiber-cement-sided ranches and columned two-story residences. The neighborhood is built along the crossroads of Highways 61 and 165.

Families, empty nesters and retirees are attracted to the village, with its 18-hole Legend Oaks Golf Club, two swimming pools, tennis courts and Lowcountry-style clubhouse peeking out from an avenue of oaks.

The golf course, designed by Pete Dye associate Scot Poole III, has had its share of praise.

According to the homeowners association, Golf Magazine Travel Editor Brian McCallen likened the approach to the Legend Oaks clubhouse to the drive up Magnolia Drive leading to Augusta National, “though the golf course is more akin to Pinehurst No. 2 (host of U.S. Opens) in its straightforward presentation of challenge.”

Whereas Legend Oaks was a bit off the beaten track two decades ago, the community is attracting neighbors today. Beech Hill Elementary School opened across from Legend Oaks a decade ago, and Ashley Ridge High School was erected a mile or so away in the late 2000s.

Legend Oaks has a fair share of history. “Prior to development as a golf course community, the land was a working rice plantation,” according to the homeowners association. More recently, the site took the name Westoe Plantation and was going to be laid out in the 1980s with a golf course but didn’t get past the initial stages. All that was left was a pagoda-like structure that was torn down eventually. The property was sold in the early 1990s and eventually became Legend Oaks Plantation.

The neighborhood includes a main entrance off Highway 61 and other access roads off highways 61 and 165.

Among the various subdivisions in Legend Oaks are Willow Point, The Providence and Palmetto Forest. One of the newer sectors is The Pointe. New-home builders now include True Homes, Crescent Homes and D.R. Horton, with residences typically priced in the $300,000s.

Legend Oaks has also sprung builders on adjacent properties, such as Mungo Homes crafting a new enclave called Whispering Fields.

To reach Legend Oaks from downtown Charleston, head west on Interstate 26 to exit 209B, which is Ashley Phosphate Road. Make a left on Ashley Phosphate and continue four miles to Dorchester Road. Steer right on Dorchester and proceed six miles to Bacons Bridge Road. Make a left on Bacons Bridge and cross the Ashley River to Highway 61. Take a right on Highway 61 (Beech Hill Road). On the left is the main entrance to Legend Oaks.

An alternate route is to cross the Ashley River Bridge onto St. Andrews Boulevard and then Ashley River Road. Follow the road past the historic plantations, proceeding seven miles from Middleton Gardens. On the left is Legend Oaks.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com