Last time I wrote about Lake Moultrie and mentioned Old Santee Canal Park. This was one of the highlights of my trip and I spent half a day here just walking one of the trails. This used to be a state park, but is now operated by Santee Cooper, a state owned electric and gas utility. I have to say they’ve done a bang up job. It is really nice. I can’t wait to go back.
Few might know this, but the Santee Canal is the first canal in the United States. It opened in 1800 and provided a direct water route from Charleston to Columbia. The canal linked the Cooper River in Charleston with the Santee River, which is formed at the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree Rivers. Construction began on the project in 1793.
When finished it was 22 miles long and 30 feet wide and about five feet deep. It contained ten locks. However it didn’t too well financially especially when the railroads came long.
The park’s 195 contains four miles of trails, a 19th century plantation house, the Berkeley County Museum and Heritage Center, an Interpretive center and more. Definitely a full day’s worth of activities. Besides walking, and learning about the local culture, nature, and history, one can rent a canoe to paddle down Biggin Creek and the southern terminus of the Santee Canal. Most of the canal is now underwater, having been flooded by Lake Moultrie. There are also picnic places. Before you go visit their web site to see what special programs and events may be happening.
I started my trip at the Interpretive Center with its unique entrance. There’s a beautiful fountain, then you walk through a lock to the door. Very nice. Inside they had displays of the canal and the Little David, the semi-submersible Confederate torpedo boat, which was built at Stony Landing as well as projects from school children.
I toyed with renting a canoe, but then opted to take the Canal trail which runs by Biggin Creek, along the Tailrace Canal and the Old Santee Canal. On the way back I took the Fitness trail and Alligator Loop. There was plenty of wildlife to see. No alligators, unfortunately for me, but I did spot a number of turtles sunning themselves. There’s a osprey nest, but not occupied on my trek past.
There is admission charged, but it’s well worth it and they have discounts for seniors, schools, and groups.
How To Get There:
The park is located on the eastern side of Moncks Corner at Stony Landing off bypass US52 (Rembert Dennis Blvd).
Old Santee Canal Park
What’s Near By:
Francis Marion NF