Spring Tips for Hiking in the Santee Cooper Region
Summer doesn’t start until June, but in South Carolina things begin to heat up much earlier. It’s why college baseball teams from up north schedule early-season games in the south. The climate reaches those unofficial short-sleeves and flip-flop seasons as early as March when it's pleasant from the Piedmont to the Coastal Plain.
This warmer weather means more hikers will set out on South Carolina trails and the Santee Cooper region boasts some of the most beautiful trails and parks in the Southeast.
We’re as eager as you are to get back to the great outdoors. Here are tips for safe hiking and suggestions for some great South Carolina parks and trails to visit.
Spring showers leave muddy grounds on hiking trails, which are messy at best and dangerous at worst. Even a simple ankle sprain can render you helpless out on the trail. Skip the trails during pouring rain. It’s especially perilous under those conditions, and you could damage the trail tread.
Pro tip: When you encounter muddy conditions, walk through them. Walking around can widen the trail and put fauna at risk.
A sunny morning can become a chilly, rainy afternoon. Pack rain gear, sunscreen, insect repellant, a change of socks and a hat. Dress in layers that you can add or remove throughout your hike as the temperature changes. Shaded trails will also not warm up to the day’s highs, so remember that.
Pro tip: Wear synthetic clothing that dries and wicks away moisture. Wet cotton doesn’t dry well, which can cause chafing and blisters.
It’s flip-flop weather, but not on the trails. Wear comfortable and waterproof shoes or boots. They’re a better option than your best cross-trainer sneakers. Also, opt for a rugged tread. It's best to handle rocks, roots and climbs you might encounter while hiking on many South Carolina trails.
Pro tip: Bring along a pair of waterproof gaiters. They can keep you dry and protect your shins from bushes with thorns.
No matter how long your hike or how familiar you are with the trail, be prepared for the unexpected. Bring a trail map and compass, in case your phone gets damaged, battery dies or you’re out of range. Also, pack a pocketknife, waterproof matches and a well-stocked first-aid kit for your outdoor activities.
Pro tip: Consider trekking poles, or a good walking stick at least. These are a big help during ascents and descents, but also just for stability when the terrain is bumpy.
You’ll need a place to carry those essentials for your outdoor excursions. You can’t fit your map, compass, first-aid kit, water and snacks in a fanny pack. A 1,000-1,200 cubic-inch pack is ideal for all you need, without the risk of overpacking.
Pro tip: An integrating hydrating system is best. If your pack doesn’t have that, keep water bottles in side mesh pockets for quick access. Remember – frequent sips are better than infrequent chugs.
The Palmetto Trail is a 425-mile hiking and biking trail in South Carolina that reaches from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Oconee County to the Intracoastal Waterway in Charleston County. Along with hiking, mountain biking and some equestrian trail areas, there are camping options, too.
This 195-acre space features the Stony Landing House, built in 1843. There are 4 miles of boardwalk and trails, giving you a glimpse of South Carolina wildlife, limestone bluffs and the remains of the Santee Canal. Take a moment off one of the prettiest South Carolina trails to have a picnic or visit the museum.
Located on the Palmetto Trail, this passage is a gem of South Carolina parks. Accommodating to all skill levels, Lake Moultrie Passage covers approximately 26 miles with an additional 6.2 miles of loop trails located in the Sandy Beach area. It also has primitive campsites. The trail is flat and wooded, with lake and canal views.