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Lake Moultrie is located 31 miles north of Charleston in the low country of South Carolina. The lake is renowned for both its fishing and its natural beauty. Lake Moultrie gives its visitors a chance to experience unspoiled waterways and woodlands, all within minutes of historic Charleston.
Lake Moultrie, along with its companion lake, Lake Marion, was created in the 1940s by the South Carolina Public Service Authority. The project was named the Santee Cooper Project, as it impounded a portion of the Santee River to form Lake Marion, and a portion of the Cooper River to form Lake Moultrie. The impoundment helped harness the rivers for hydroelectric power and created a means of navigation from Columbia to Charleston by boat. As a bonus, the lakes now provide a haven for wildlife and allow visitors to view undisturbed swamp and forest habitats. Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion together have about 450 miles of shoreline. Development around the lakes is planned carefully to protect the neighboring wildlife. Santee Cooper, the company that manages the lakes, has pledged to preserve seventy percent of the lakes' shorelines from development.
Lake Moultrie offers the opportunity for world-class fishing. Anglers can enjoy a variety of fishing habitats at the lake, from shallow swamps and cypress-shaded ponds to open water. The lake's oval shape and its width, 14 miles at the widest point, often create windy conditions similar to what one would find out at sea. The lake is known for its catfish, and it still holds the world record for channel catfish, at 58 pounds. A world-record Arkansas blue catfish was also pulled from the lake's waters. State-record largemouth bass, shellcracker bream, warmouth, flathead, and white perch have been found at Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion. Fishing is a year-round pastime at the lakes, since the mild South Carolina winters prevent them from freezing. Anglers can access Lake Moultrie at several boat ramps and commercial marinas, or fish from the shore, where catfish often congregate in the shallow waters near sunset.
A unique aspect of Lake Moultrie is its accessibility to both its companion lake and the Cooper River. Boaters can travel not only from Lake Moultrie to Lake Marion via the 6.5 mile Diversion Canal, but they also can access the Cooper River by way of the Pinopolis Lock and Tailrace Canal. The river is an entry point to nearby Charleston. Even without leaving Lake Moultrie, boating enthusiasts can find plenty to do: swimming, water skiing, canoeing, and kayaking are just a few of the ways to commune with nature on the lake. The 175 miles of paddling trails of the Berkeley County Blueways, which connect with Lake Moultrie, offer a way for nature lovers to experience the low country as its earliest settlers might have--by boat.
Hiking enthusiasts should be sure not to miss the Lake Moultrie Passage, a 33 mile section of South Carolina's Palmetto Trail. The trail hugs the lake shore and most parts of the trail offer views of the lake. Because the trail passes through wildlife management areas, deer, wild turkeys, doves, hawks, and even the occasional alligator have been spotted by hikers. Rudimentary campsites are available all along the trail. The Francis Marion National Forest is another haven for hikers. This 250,000 acre park is bordered by the Intercoastal Waterway on the east and Lake Moultrie on the west. Trails are open not only to hiking, but also to mountain biking, motorcyling, and horseback riding. The park is a bird watcher's paradise, with more than 280 species of birds waiting to be discovered. After a busy day of exploring the forest, there is no shortage of places to bed down for the night; Lake Moultrie boasts accommodations ranging from full-service RV hook-ups to lakeside cabins and everything in between.
The area surrounding Lake Moultrie offers even more for its visitors to enjoy. Hunting is plentiful in the forested land surrounding the lake. The Santee area is famous for its golfing; there are sixteen 18-hole golf courses within a forty-five minute drive of Lake Moultrie. The lake's proximity to Charleston, minutes away by either car or boat, make it an ideal home base for exploring this gracious Southern city and its many historical attractions.
From fishing and hunting to golfing and hiking, there are a multitude of ways to enjoy the rugged beauty of Lake Moultrie. Don't pass up a visit to this low country wonder that is steeped in history and rich in natural splendor.
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