Sparkleberry Swamp

Another Sparkelberry Site

Also called Rimini or Santee Swamp

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September 13th.2003 Topo and Aerial Photos

 

Sparkleberry Swamp is a Submerged cypress and tupelo forest area in the north end of Lake Marion, South Carolina. The swamp can be reached by two methods: 1) Enter at Sparkleberry landing (preferred) by paddling through the short canal to the flats, then across to the forest or 2) enter at Pack's Landing and paddling across what seems to be thousands of miles of open water to get to the swamp. At low water, the canal is not navigable and the boats must be portaged for about 1000 feet. This is not as much fun as it sounds, since at low water, this is muddy and slippery. This is when the paddle from Packs Landing is a better choice. The entrance to the canal on the return is marked by a speed limit 20 MPH sign. Be sure you go to the EAST ( far right side on return to the canal) of the peninsula or there will be TWO canals to negotiate, since you will be on the wrong side of the peninsula and will have to cross the point of land as well as the canal area. (see map)

The generally utilized start to the trip begins with an exit from the canal, then a turn left and a short trip to a large open lake area. At this point, continue along the left shoreline to the forest at the far end of the lake, or head at about a forty five degree angle across the lake to the marked trail through the forest. Be observant, as the marks are often hard to see, and there are several sets of them in various colors. 

The swamp is a beautifully secluded submerged forest with lots of Great Blue Heron and White Egret, as well as Alligators, Owls, and Woodpeckers. Small and brilliantly orange Prothonetary Warbler (Swamp Warblers) are often seen. The Palmetto Conservancy says this about the area: "Deer, turkey, squirrels and water fowl are numerous. Users should plan for the possibility of encountering poisonous snakes and/or large alligators along the lake's edge."

Small motor boats travel the stream ways in the forest, but are not a big problem. Various routes are marked on the trees with almost invisible paint. Look closely! Numerous Cypress stumps are in the water, so use caution when paddling so you don't lose balance when the boat suddenly tips to one side. In Summer, the water grass and other vegetation can be thick, so be observant to your route so you do not become disoriented. Consider using a GPS. Campgrounds can be found in various high ground areas.  Watch your campfires! the undergrowth can burn quite quickly. This is another paddle route where no shuttle is required, so time and distance is as variable as you wish to make it. There are innumerable routes through the trees, but there are some standard points known by most paddlers who frequent the area, such as the "License Plate Tree". GPS data is listed below. 

Maps of the area are deceiving as far as shoreline is concerned. It seems that the lake never lies where it should. Do not rely on the maps for accurate navigation, unless you validate it yourself or trust someone who has validated it. Always be sure to take extra food and clothing for those times when the way back is not as clear as it should be in your mind. File a float plan!

There is a nice campsite built by deer hunters on Crescent Lake. This site has a picnic table, deer dressing tables, and several other amenities, but is popular. Please use discretion when using the site, and leave it at least as clean as you find it.  Bury your waste, or pack it out. Better yet, read the book "How to Shit in the Woods" (see link below). 

Directions:

To Sparkleberry Landing: From Columbia, take Highway 76 toward Sumter. After crossing the Wateree River, turn Right on SC 261. You will pass signs indicating an Air Force Electronic Bombing Range, then  Poinsett State park. Continue on until you see signs that indicate trailheads for the Palmetto trail. Soon after these signs, a LAKE ACCESS sign will tell you to turn right. Do so and continue following that road until you see another lake access sign directing you to turn right. This road will lead to the landing.

Map of trip to Campground, Santee River, and Crescent lake

GPS Data points:

Sparkleberry Landing: 17 S 542880 3729137

"License Plate Tree": 17 S 541951 3728458

High Ground Campsite: 17 S 538505 3729461

Entrance from Tavern Creek to river: 17 S 537449 3729311

Lower Entrance to Crescent lake from the River: 17 S 537883 3728952

Route from Sparkleberry to High Ground Campsite = 3.74 Miles

Other Trip reports:

Mike Boone's  Sparkleberry Swamp, South Carolina December 9, 2001

Other related links:

Palmetto Trail Lake Marion Passage

How to Shit in the Woods: an environmentally sound approach to a lost art by Kathleen Meyer Paperback - 107 pages 2nd edition (September 1994) Ten Speed Press; ISBN: 0898156270
Our once-pristine wild lands are threatened by ever increasing problems of pollution. Since its first  publication in 1989, How to Shit in the Woods has been adopted by outdoor enthusiasts everywhere as part of the solution.