North Lake Moultrie Trail: Santee Canal — Rated: Moderate, 6.4 Miles
The Santee Canal is a beautiful two and one half mile section of the canal that can be accessed by canoe or kayak from Angel’s Cove on the western boundary of the Sandy Beach Wildlife Refuge. It is a black water canal bordered by moss-laden cypress trees. It appears uniformly about 20 yards in width and maintains a depth of 4 to 5 feet.
About the Trail
Construction began on the Santee Canal in 1793. It operated from its completion in 1800 through 1850. The original canal used a series of 10 locks to move laden vessels from the Santee River to the Cooper River and subsequently down the Cooper River to the antebellum City of Charleston. Designed by competent engineers of the day, including General George Washington, the Santee Canal served as a primary system for transporting goods from midland South Carolina to Charleston. In the mid 1800’s, the canal fell into disuse due to the advent of the steam train and a period of extended drought in the area. Of the original 22 miles of the canal, most of the system was consumed by Lake Moultrie upon completion of the dam in November 1941. When one equates the massive amounts of materials moved by hand to create the canal, the enormity of the project is mind-boggling. Paddling the canal creates a sense of the history of Berkeley County.