About the High Hills of Santee Passage
High Hills of Santee in Sumter County was named for the high, sandy ridges that are part of the Sandhills geographical region. These rolling hills are the remains of an ancient ocean shoreline found in the Carolinas and Georgia. Over time, the beach sand and shells transformed into rock, called coquina, which can be seen today throughout Poinsett State Park. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps used the native stone to build many structures in the park. The highest point in Poinsett is about 130 feet above the adjacent Wateree Swamp. The views are impressive and the mosquitoes less bothersome than in the swamp. From Poinsett, the passage follows ridges through the pines and hardwoods in Manchester State Forest south to Mill Creek County Park. Birdwatching includes the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
No fee required for hikers, but mountain bikers and equestrians must have a permit from the state forest (daily permit: $5, or annual permit: $25). Fees for camping vary.
Poinsett State Park Trailhead: Poinsett Park Road (S-43-63). Turn right (west) and drive to the park. Manchester State Forest offers free day-use parking on left of Poinsett Park Road just before entering the park. Continue into the park for day or overnight parking. Find trailhead at park headquarters. For equestrian parking or camping, turn right on River Road before reaching the park entrance. Drive 0.1 mile to equestrian staging area.
Mill Creek County Park: From Columbia or Sumter on US Hwy 378, turn south onto SC 261 and travel 12.5 miles, through Wedgefield, to Camp Mac Boykin Road (S-43-51). Take right fork toward Rimini, drive 3 miles, and turn right on Millford Plantation Road (S-43-808). Travel 0.8 mile to Mill Creek County Park.
- Tent and RV campsites and cabins available (reservations required) at Poinsett State Park
- Tent and RV sites and horse stalls available (reservations required) at Mill Creek County Park.
- High Hills Passage through Manchester State Forest is a multi-use trail—hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians.
- Equestrians are not allowed in Poinsett State Park. A horse-staging area is located outside the park.
- Equestrians are allowed in Mill Creek Park.
- Manchester State Forest, 7640 Headquarters Rd, Wedgefield, SC 29168, ph (803) 494-8196
- Poinsett State Park, 6660 Poinsett Park Rd, Wedgefield, SC 29168, ph (803) 494-8177
- Mill Creek County Park, 7975 Millford Plantation Rd, Pinewood, SC 29125 (803) 436-2248
High Hills of Santee Passage Share Owners
Scoutmaster Bobby Barnes, Troop 339
Dr. Hans Brings
Emily & Tim DeLozier
Gene Ray Hutto
Steve & Jan Warner