Santee Coastal Reserve

I had the pleasure to visit and spend some time hiking and exploring at the Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area in McClellanville. The visit has inspired a new permanent collection page, specific to El Dorado Plantation, the ruins of which can be visited on this vast property. Be sure to check out the pictures at this new page, posted under Places, Santee Delta.

I had actually visited this location once before, on a woefully misguided hike, where my I learned that for some outdoor adventures in South Carolina, timing is everything. On that note – DO NOT attempt to visit this place in spring or summer, and for that matter, most of fall. January was perfect. There are indeed mosquitoes, a lot of mosquitoes, a few even in January. The January mosquitoes were weak, a little bug spray kept them away once I had encountered them. My ill-fated initial expedition was in – um – May. This is when I learned about South Carolina lowcountry Mayflies, Deer flies, Horse flies, kamikaze flies, mean biting flies, clouds of relentless flies as thick as smoke, and flies that tried to attack my CAR. I actually made it a ways down the trail to El Dorado, determined to not let flies get the best of me, armed with some mega-max jungle bug repellent. I took a few blurry photos from one corner, and then bolted, and ran screaming, arms flailing, back to my car to get away from the flies.

I can not over-emphasize how bad the flies were on the previous visit. I don’t know how anyone could have lived in this place. Except for maybe the month of January.

The trails are well marked, well-maintained, relatively flat and wide. The are color-blazed, El Dorado is on the Purple Trail. I hiked both the Purple and the Blue trails easily on this expedition. Being duck hunting season, the Cape Trail was closed to the public.

This spot is located just a few miles from Hampton Plantation and St. James Santee, an easy fifteen minutes by car. I will definitely be exploring here again, in fly off-season.

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