The Berkeley County Blueways paddling trail system identifies over 175 miles of total water course from 23 trails and is a result of the vision and efforts of many individuals and organizations working in partnership. The Carolina Gypsy Paddlers assisted in the survey and brought to light the value that a paddling trail program would contribute to the area's recreational opportunities.
We share here photos of their explorations as well as an over-view of each of the beautiful waterways that make up the Berkeley County Blueways water trail system. Included are links to more details for each segment.
History's Natural Highways
Our rivers and waterways are history's natural highways. Before there were interstates or even dirt roads, our founders traveled them and moved produce and trade goods by canoe and pole boats. Just a short paddling trip can for all practical purposes create an experience much like those experienced by our forefathers. You can quickly whisk yourself away from the hustle and bustle of today's busy and complicated lifestyles to a much simpler time. A time often referred to as " the good old days " can be relived and shared with your family and friends. Berkeley County has an abundance of waters suitable for canoeing and kayaking that can provide wonderful back to nature experiences for the entire family. (photo: Al Kennedy on the Santee Canal)
The Berkeley Blueways Paddling Online Guide
A collection of graphic maps and aerial photographs are now available to guide you on your way, thanks to the staff of the GIS Department of Berkeley County working with the Carolina Gypsy Paddlers, who documented each waterway in the trail with details only a paddler can appreciate. Together, they contain information to help you plan various paddling trips throughout Berkeley County.
This generous, free, online guide not only includes information and pictures to help you determine where to paddle but strives to maintain anticipation for what may lay around the next bend. This will allow you to dig down and study not only the trail you intend to travel but what lies beyond your field of vision from the banks. Maps are high resolution, resizeable and printable.
Here is an over-view of all the adventures you have to choose from:
Lake Moultrie comprises 60,400 acres of prime warm water habitat in the western portion of Berkeley County with 116 miles of irregular shoreline. It is a man made impoundment completed in 1942 by the South Carolina Public Service Authority now known as Santee Cooper. Named after revolutionary war hero General William Moultrie, there are presently 16 boat launching facilities encircling the lake.
Sandy Beach Wildlife Refuge - While the back bay area of Sandy Beach offers a very pretty section for exploration, the front beach area provides for primitive camping as well as a good swimming beach and access to the wildlife viewing trails. --Sandy Beach Wildlife Refuge Details
Russellville Flats - This area varies from sparse cypress swamp with several types of flowering water lilies and plant life to heavily forested high ground. Many species of wading birds as well as alligators, whitetail deer and numerous species of small game and songbirds inhabit the area. For the paddling fisherman, this area offers some of the best bluegill and red eared sunfish (shell cracker) fishing to be found anywhere. --Russellville Flats Details
The "Jungle" - An enclosed tupelo swamp presenting an appearance much like the famed Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia, but on a smaller scale, offers a few hours to a full day of pleasant diversion for paddling with little chance of losing ones way. Fragrant water lilies in season and lotus plants as well as various grasses provide excellent habitat for summer ducks and numerous wading birds. --The "Jungle" Details
Coon Island - an excellent location for primitive camping with a very nice beach front on its southern exposure as well as ample high ground. Excellent fishing for largemouth bass both early and late in the day during the warmer months. --Coon Island Details
Also known as Pinopolis Pool consists of 2,254 acres. This is a very popular and productive fishery for bluegills and speckled perch, provides an easily accessed and reasonably well protected area for paddlers. Alligators can be sighted over much of the area as well as a variety of wading birds, songbirds, and small game. --The Hatchery Details
The initial large enclosed bay opens onto a somewhat smaller area of cypress swamp which contains abundant plant life, cypress trees and grasses and is home for numerous wading birds as well as osprey and American alligators. --The Duck Pond Details
The Blueway includes 63 miles of the Santee River above major tidal influence and shows little sign of development. The upper section from Wilsons Landing to Highway 52 is among the prettiest waterways in the state. --Santee River Details
Miles: 25 - Too long for a day trip, but overall a very pleasant trip. There is very little sign of human habitation and wildlife is abundant. --Wilson's Landing Details
Miles: 12.7 - About a 6 hour leisurely trip, wildlife viewing on this section of river is likely to include eagles, American egrets, and blue herons. A popular fishing area, you may see boats fishing for bluegills, crappie, bass and catfish. --Highway 52 Details
Miles: 16.25 - Numerous sand bars and small islands suitable for lunch or rest spots. For the most part, wildlife will consist of numerous wading birds such as the American egret and the blue heron. --Santee Arrowhead Details
Miles: 9.5 - Ranges from about 50 yards in width to over 100 yards in different sections. Much of it is bordered on the right side by the Francis Marion National Forest where primitive camping is permitted. You will commonly see deer, wild turkey, bald eagles, and numerous wading birds. Of particular interest on this trip is Battery Warren, a Confederate fort built to protect the railroad bridge at that location during the Civil War. --Jamestown to McConnels Landing Details
600 acres - While the South end of the reservoir is mostly open marsh lands, the North end of the impoundment has a goodly amount of high ground and housing. You will see many wading birds as well as small alligators throughout and above the landing on the eastern shore you will come to an area of small trees that provide nesting for a large rookery of snowy egrets and white ibis in season. --Goose Creek Reservoir Details
Challenging, particularly during periods of low water when it may become necessary to portage obstructions, but well worth the effort. This lovely cypress swamp is much as it was over two centuries ago when Francis Marion and his brigade of men frequented the area. Under the stewardship of Santee Cooper this corridor has been placed in a conservation trust to preserve its pristine beauty. --Upper Wadboo Creek Details
Generally of a swampy nature, with much cypress and some tupelo growth evident. Most common wildlife seen on this section of Wadboo Creek will be small alligators, osprey, and numerous egrets and great blue herons. About a half mile below the Highway 402 bridge, on the left bank you will see an access stream back into a lovely small cypress swamp, much of it is shaded by heavy canopy. A bit of exploration is worth while. Good fishing includes redbreast and large bluegills. --Lower Wadboo Creek Details
Many of the cypress trees along the banks are quite large and were there when Brigadier General Francis Marion and his Brigade roamed the area terrorizing the entire British Army in South Carolina.
The area is heavily populated with whitetail deer and black bear have been sighted as well as the illusive Carolina panther. A quiet paddler will greatly increase his odds for sighting some of the abundant wildlife in the area. --Wambaw Creek Details
Blackwater tidal creeks at the extreme end of the East Branch Cooper River, both offer excellent pan fish and bass fisheries for the fishermen. The creeks are lined with flowering lilly pads in the warmer months and wildlife consists mostly of wading birds, ducks, osprey and small alligators. --Huger - Quimby Creek Details
A small black water creek with tidal influence, contains some of the largest and oldest cypress trees you will see in Berkeley County. Wildlife is abundant in this area and in particular white tailed deer, and wood duck will be spotted frequently. Access also to Battery Warren, a picturesque stop with nice river views from the original earth mounds of the civil war fort as well as plaques which detail the forts history. --Echaw Creek Details
A lovely narrow meandering stream of water with lush thickly grown banks. Other than the occasional wood duck nesting boxes that have been placed in the area, it is easy to get the feeling that you are the first to ever lay eyes on this lovely stream. It certainly has not been marred by the hand of man.
Alligators were common in the creek as were anhinga’s, the cormorant like fishing birds that frequent much of the low country waters. --Chicken Creek Details
Two miles after entering the creek you will come to a well manicured clearing on your left with a floating dock. This is Medway Plantation. It consisted of 12,000 acres of land that passed to Mr. John D'Arssens by decree of the Governor in the 1680's. Portions of the original house exist today, created from bricks made from clay along the Cooper River. Forestation is a mixed bag of pine, cypress, sweet gum, hardwoods, red cedar and river birch. In summer you will see a lot of flowering water lilies and plants. The waterway is home to wood ducks, blue heron, American egrets, and osprey. On the upper reaches you may spot white tailed deer. Small alligators are quite common throughout the Back River section. --Durham Creek - Back River Details
The banks are restricted access and while you may paddle through the area you are not to go ashore; however, the trip is a pretty one and a better opportunity for viewing and taking pictures of the numerous wading birds and alligators will be hard to find.
Foster Creek is also a popular fishing area and the tidal creek produces some nice catches of largemouth and bluegills. --Foster Creek Details
A three mile loop on Biggin Creek, including a portion of the original Santee Canal, presents an excellent opportunity for beginning kayakers to enjoy a pleasant afternoon of paddling.
Rental canoes are provided for a modest fee. The area is forested primarily with cypress trees, has several species of flowering water plants and provides a home for many lovely wading birds. --Old Santee Canal Park Details
Numerous islands as well as several miles of inviting shoreline to paddle. One can easily paddle a half day, a full day or spend an overnight on one of the islands without becoming bored or seeing it all.
The cypress shoreline to the South of the landing provides some excellent fishing for bluegills and red eared sunfish. Numerous ospreys will be seen nesting in the area as well as an assortment of wading birds and the occasional alligator sunning on the sandy beaches. --Spiers Landing Details
The Berkeley Blueways Group water-trails website and The Friends Of Berkeley Blueways on Facebook have more information for kayakers wanting to paddle through South Carolina's Berkeley County's beautiful landscapes. They also appreciate donations of used or new kayaks, paddles, and life vest as they are planning to offer ACA approved instruction & trips for children and adults. All donations are tax deductible. Please visit their website for current contact information. In addition, you will find below are more resources for paddling in South Carolina.
Since this article was first posted a new trail was added: Swamp Fox 50 Mile Paddle/Camp Trail In SC. This link takes you to its website.
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