The 22-mile long Old Santee Canal was completed at the turn of the 19th century to allow easy passage of boats across the lowcountry river systems. Today part of the Canal, and the area that surrounds it, make up the Old Santee Canal State Park. The State Park consists of 195 acres of protected land which hosts a variety of trails and wildlife that is situated just north of Charleston, and is a mecca for everyone from hikers to boaters.
The trails in Old Santee Canal State Park are some of the most beautiful around. With more than 4 miles of boardwalk extending over the backwaters of Biggins Creek, these veins of trails have a little something for every kind of runner.
The Canal Walk trail is 2.8 miles of boardwalk and crushed stone loop that guides you around both the salt marsh and huge, towering cypresses. Starting at the Interpretive Center, the Canal Walk Trail is a loop that crosses over both Biggins Creek and the Old Santee Canal, with part of the trail running next to a limestone bluff.
The Old Santee Canal Hiking Trail is approximately 1 mile long, and boasts several observation decks where you can catch your breath and take in the beauty of the lowcountry. To access this trail, you’ll leave the Interpretive Center and run clockwise on the Canal Trail until you come to the trailhead of the Old Santee Canal Trail. From there, you can run about 1 mile until it again connects with the Canal Trail and continue on, or turn back and head back to the Interpretive Center.
With either of these trail runs, or the many more miles of boardwalk within the park, there will be an abundance of wildlife and beauty. Watch closely for a glimpse of osprey nests and deer, as they proliferate here. Cedar, oak, rhododendron, and ferns are also likely to be out next to the trails.
What Makes it Great
This park is as historic as it is beautiful. Don’t be surprised if you see a wedding or two, because the Park’s beauty attracts all kinds of people eager to enjoy it. The wildlife will be out in spades, and the flora will not likely disappoint either.
Who Will Run It
This is an easy run with only moderately strenuous trails in a few spots here and there. The trail does often change from crushed stone to boardwalk, so watch your footing. You can go for a run varying from 1 mile and up, so the options are diverse. As always in the South, bring bug spray and don’t forget your water. There are restrooms available and Fido is definitely allowed… on a leash, of course.
Parking, Trailhead and Hours
To get to the park from downtown Charleston, you’ll want to travel up I 26 West and take the 209A Goose Creek/Moncks Corner/Hwy 52 exit. From there, continue on through North Charleston and Goose Creek. At Moncks Corner, head straight through the traffic light at the Berkeley County Administration building, on Robert C. Dennis Boulevard. Turn right at Stony Landing Road. The Old Santee Canal State Park is at the end of the road past Berkley Immediate School and Roper Berkeley Hospital.
The hours of operation for the park are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There is a fee of $3/adult and free for children of years 6 and under.