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Santee, South Carolina

Paddle Poplar Creek on Lake Marion

2.25 Miles Total - 0 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Brett Kelly

This cypress/tupelo forested creek on Lake Marion (the largest lake in South Carolina) has endless outdoor opportunities like kayaking, canoeing or paddle-boarding, and opportunities to view wildlife like alligators, herons, ospreys, egrets, and more!

Come to the low country of South Carolina to live slow, enjoy some rich culture and history, quench your thirst for a great paddling adventure, and view incredible wildlife in the process. 

From Columbia SC, take I-26 South towards Orangeburg. Stay on this road for 31.5 miles and then take exit 136 to merge onto SC-6 E towards St. Matthews. Continue 28.3 miles along this road until you enter the small town of Elloree. Here you will turn left onto E Cleveland Street/ State Rd S-38-105. This road will dead end into the park; turn left at the final fork for the visitor's center and lake access, stay right for the campground (follow directions on signs). 

Once inside check in at the visitor's center for more information about fees and regulations, indigenous wildlife, and the historical significance of the park. 

If water sports are what you are into, then look no further than Lake Marion. Whether it's canoeing, kayaking, or paddle-boarding this lake has the opportunity for you. I personally rented a kayak from Fisheagle Nature Adventures so that I could paddle upstream into Poplar Creek. From the boat ramp inside Santee State Park turn left (west) and paddle alongside the left bank of the creek. This will take you directly to the mouth of Poplar Creek which is still wide at this point. Poplar creek has a trail which follows numbered wood duck nesting boxes nestled into large bald cypress knees with Spanish moss hanging from every tree. Continue south alongside the bank of the creek until it begins to narrow, and the cypress tress begin to encroach into the water. Eventually you will pass through a sea of green lily pads. Past this trail the creek becomes more of a wetland, but continue down this path as it is the most beautiful section of the trip. Eventually the lily pads and trees becomes too thick to navigate, and this is when you should turn around. Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars and a camera to view wildlife such as duck, alligator, osprey, owl, heron, egret, song birds, and more! 

Come to the low country of South Carolina to live slow, enjoy some rich culture and history, quench your thirst for a great paddling adventure, and view incredible wildlife in the process.  

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole


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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Summerton, South Carolina

Santee / Santee Lakes KOA

100 National Park Road

Congaree National Park Camping

Ladson, South Carolina

Charleston KOA

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Mount Pleasant / Charleston KOA

Nearby Adventures

Hike through Santee State Park

10 Miles Round Trip - 0 ft gain

Hike Santee National Wildlife Refuge

1.25 Miles Round Trip - 0 ft gain

Explore the Francis-Beidler Forest

1.75 Miles Round Trip