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Get out on the lakes this fall

September 07, 2016   By Willard Strong in

A sailboat plies the blue waters of Lake Marion on a recent September afternoon.

The Santee Cooper Lakes, Marion and Moultrie, are South Carolina’s largest freshwater resource when you combine the acreage of the two reservoirs, which are connected by the Diversion Canal.

One thing I heard this summer, particularly during the brutal July was, “it’s just too hot to get out on the water.” Well, good-bye Tropical Storm Hermine and hello autumn! After she blew through with a little wind, lots of rain and a few scattered power outages, fall seemed to arrive a little early last Saturday morning.

Temperatures were in the low 60s around the lakes and the humidity was way down. It felt so good, warming up to the mid-80s by early afternoon. The water is still plenty warm enough for swimming, tubing or any kind of water sports. I still don’t understand how this thing they call a “noodle” is useful in any way in a lake or swimming pool. But I digress.

The secret is, the next 30 to 45 days are a perfect time to discover Marion and Moultrie. Rental house prices decline after Labor Day and weekend getaways are the perfect time to visit Old Santee Canal Park in Moncks Corner, Santee State Park outside Santee, and the Santee National Wildlife Refuge near Summerton.

The Fisheagle Wildlife Boat Tours, the only attraction of its type on the lakes, runs out of Santee State Park. Fisheagle offers tours of Stump Hole Swamp, a trip through Santee Cooper’s Pinopolis Lock that connects Lake Moultrie to the Tailrace Canal and Cooper River.

Did you know that there are no less than 19 restaurants on the lakes that are accessible by boat? If you’re an avid angler, you likely know that the lakes have attracted your type for more than 70 years and counting. There are 13 golf courses around the lakes, so if you’re a duffer, check that out.

There are so many things to experience in the five counties that surround the lakes, which stretch from the Midlands in Sumter County to Berkeley County in the Lowcountry. Fishing, bird watching, a museum, parks, camping, hunting, golf, and secluded beaches with sandy shores are all waiting on you.

So, if you’re intrigued, go to or go to the Santee Cooper Counties Promotion Commission’s website at to discover or rediscover what autumn can offer you in Santee Cooper Country.