Reviewed by SCgregg1 on May 18, 2011
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I did the Santee Passage in two trips on my mountain bike.
Day one: Pretty good bike ride for the most part. There was one 2-mile section from Doron Lane to Avinger Drive that was near un-bikable in spots. The section goes through private land and some of that land has been recently logged. You could walk your bike through it easily enough if you wanted to.
I ditched my bike and walked the 2-mile section, forward and backward, and then rode back to where I started the day at the Santee Town Hall. The Town Hall is the western terminus of the Santee Passage.
There was one missing trail sign. Shortly after crossing under I-95 there is a road that goes right. A sign saying "Hebron Grace" is at that turn. Take that right turn. The signage is good after that.
Day two: Another pretty good bike ride. I started at the eastern terminus of the passage at the Eutawville Community Center and rode to where I stopped on day one. The trail leaves the community center (not much parking) on SC route 45 (Branchville Highway) and follows it for about 1 mile. Once the trail leaves route 45 the ride gets quite nice. All back roads with some nice scenery. Also, Dunkinfield Drive and Gladstone Road are constantly crossed by deer and turkeys. I saw many of both!
Conclusions about the Santee Passage: Except for that one missing trail sign, and the slight confusion in the lumbered area of the private land, the passage was well marked and easy to follow. I would say that the trail from Eutawville to the town of Vance is the better half of the passage. Three miles of that section are on back roads that are rather quiet, and loaded with wildlife.
I thought that this passage might just be a 'connector' trail between two more interesting passages, but I was wrong. The Santee Passage has quite a bit to offer!
There is a great guide book available for this Palmetto Trail Passage. It is contained in The Palmetto Trail Lowcountry Guide, available from The Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF). The guide gives good trail descriptions and provides maps of all the passages from the Atlantic Ocean to the end of the Wateree Passage. The guide is also a fantastic history book!
Information about the guide book and PCF can be found at www.palmettoconservation.org. PCF is a non-profit organization and is responsible for orchestrating all development of The Palmetto Trail.
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