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The largest lake in South Carolina at 172 square miles, Lake Marion straddles five counties: Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg, and Sumter. It is located in the Santee Cooper Country Tourism Region. Created in 1942 in tandem with its sister reservoir, Lake Moultrie, the two lakes cover 174,000 acres and contain more than 875 billion gallons of water. Connected by the 6.5-mile Diversion Channel, these lakes were created from 1939-1942.
Built as part of the Santee Cooper Hydroelectric & Navigation Project, Lake Marion was named after Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion. It was designed to create electricity for the Santee Cooper area by damming up the Santee River. The resulting lake not only provides power, but it created an exceptional recreation area. Lake Marion boasts 315 miles of tree-dotted shoreline, combining with Lake Moultrie's 135 miles to give visitors and area residents 450 miles of lakeside playground to enjoy.
Activities on Lake Marion include boating, sailing, jet skiing, swimming, fishing, hunting, kayaking/canoeing, and wildlife viewing. The lake is home to osprey, deer, fox, squirrel, alligator, turkey, dove, hawk, eagle, and egret. Towns close to Lake Marion include Santee, Summerton, Vance, and Eutawville. Santee, located just minutes from the lake, is known as a golfers paradise with three courses for its 800 residents. Lake Marion is halfway between Columbia and Charleston making it the perfect stopping-off point between the two large South Carolina cities.
Fishing on Lake Marion is an experience some anglers dream of. The lake's shallow swamps and blackwater ponds provide the ideal homes for many area fish. Year-round opportunities abound to catch some of the lake's record-breakers: 58-pound Channel Catfish, 2.2-pound Warmouth, 55-pound Striped Bass, 16.2-pound Largemouth Bass, 5-pound Black Crappie, and more have all been prizes of happy fishermen. Anglers should follow the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control guidelines for the consumption of fish. Public access to the lake is available through several boat ramps at Santee State Park and the Santee National Wildlife Refuge.
The perfect visit for nature lovers, Santee State Park offers cabins and camping sites to provide a roof over your head after an enjoyable day at the lake. Situated on the banks of Lake Marion, the park sweeps out over 2500 acres and boasts hiking trails, picnic facilities, fishing piers, a marina, and public access to these cool, blue waters.
The Santee National Wildlife Refuge is a 15,000 acre refuge with one of the largest wetlands in the east to support migratory birds. It is also home to the Santee Native American Mound, which is the farthest eastern evidence of the Mississippian culture. There are walking trails, a vistior center, an auto tour, fishing, hunting, and photography opportunities at the refuge.
Vacation rentals are readily available on the shores of Lake Marion as well as real estate if your desire is to live on Lake Marion year round. Visitors can enjoy a week or a long weekend in a lakehouse on one of the most beautiful lakes in the deep south. So grab a drink, your beach towel, and head to the lake to dip your toes in and enjoy the waters of South Carolina's largest lake.
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