Come experience nature and history all in one inside the 13,000 acre refuge where you can view almost 300 different types of birds, 54 reptiles, 45 mammals, and 100 species of fish!

From Columbia SC, take I-26 South towards Orangeburg. Stay on this road for 31.5 miles and then take exit 136 to merge onto SC-6 E towards St. Matthews. Continue about 34 miles until you enter the town of Santee. Turn left onto I-95 Northbound and continue another 3 miles. You will see a large wooden sign on the lefthand side of the road, take this left onto Fort Watson Rd. Follow this road all the way through until you hit the traffic circle, and then park. 

From the parking lot walk towards the gravel road with the metal gate across it. You will see a small wooden sign saying "Wrights Bluff Nature Trail." Follow this single track trail through the hardwood swamp to cross over two boardwalks, with one giving you a telescopic view out over the marsh. Walk slowly as you have the opportunity to see birds like the Painted Bunting (during certain months of the year) or the awe-inspiring American Alligator. There is also a raised viewing platform which you can climb to get a great view out of the larger, unforested marsh where you may see larger predatory birds like Snowy Egrets, and Great Blue Herons. 

Once you finish the one mile loop, follow the gravel footpath 50 yards to the right to the front of the Fort Watson/ Indian Mound site. This is an incredible mound that is still in tact that dates back to around 1000 AD. This mound is an important piece of Native American heritage and has relics buried inside. However, during the revolutionary war, the mound was taken over by the British Army and a fort was built on top. The fort was later deconstructed but the mound is now protected, and a wooden staircase lets you climb to the top and view out over Lake Marion, just as the Native Americans and the British Army infantry would have years ago.  

Pack List

  • Water Bottle
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Binoculars
  • Wildlife Field Guide 
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RT Distance 1.25 Miles
Elevation Gain 0 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Loop
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Handicap Accessible


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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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