Paddling South Carolina’s Rivers

South Carolina Rivers

File – Paddling South Carolina Rivers (KMZ, 1.5 MB)

Google Earth has been one of the best resources for planning river kayaking trips, especially on new routes with which I’m not familiar. I’ll scan the route, locate put-in and take-out points, and put placemarks for certain landmarks such as rapids, powerlines, bridges, tributaries, or other interesting locations along the way. I would then use GPS Babel to convert my Google Earth files to GPX files then upload the data to my GPS so I would have it with me on the paddling trip.

Pretty soon I had a nice little collection of river trips in Google Earth. I began to wonder if anyone else was doing this. It seemed like it would be an excellent resource. There are some excellent books out there, such as Able and Horman’s Paddling South Carolina, and while the maps in these resources are fine for giving driving directions, there is no GPS information. has started putting Lat/Long coordinates for some of their paddling trails, but not for all of them. So, I decided to make my own collection. Continue reading “Paddling South Carolina’s Rivers”

Autumn Paddle on the Enoree

Heading downstream

Kayakers – 3

Weatherman – 0

This makes three trips in a row where there was an iffy weather forecast. In each case, if we had followed The Weather Channel’s advice and canceled the trip, we would have missed out on a fantastic day of paddling. You’ve got to pay attention to the weather, but a 60% chance of rain doesn’t necessarily mean a bad day on the river.

Following on the heels of our last successful Enoree trip, David and Rick wanted to paddle another stretch of the river. They had done some scouting, and found a stretch starting at Whitmire that had great river access points. Add to that the fact that David had a new kayak to try out, and we had to put together another trip.

This was going to be a much smaller group than last time. Since the paddle route was longer, this just made sense. We would be joined by Dave W, a good friend of Rick and David’s, bringing our number to four.

Paddling Crew

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Paddling Partners

The paddling group

I was pleasantly surprised at how many people went on our last paddling excursion on the Enoree and Broad Rivers. In addition to our regular Lowcountry Unfiltered group, we had seven others from the Upstate and Midlands. There are several others from fairly close by that would have gone if they hadn’t had prior conflicts. That got me wondering whether or not we should start an Upstate version of Lowcountry Unfiltered. I don’t think I’m ready for that, yet, but my inquiries yielded some interesting things.

My paddling associations have always been informal.  It’s always been just whoever was available on any particular paddling day.  I’ve done more paddling with my friends Bob and Alan than anyone else, but there are others that join us with some consistency.

nullThe Lowcountry Unfiltered group is the closest thing to a formal organization I’ve ever joined for paddling.  However, the thing that appeals to me most about it is its very informal nature.  Apart from having a website, logo, and a set Saturday of the month for outings, it’s a very loosely-defined group.  If it weren’t for the fact that some of the trips are a bit far away for me, and the fact that I’m not free every second Saturday, I’d join them on just about every trip.

While toying with the idea of an Upstate group, I decided to check the web to see what others might be out there.  These range from the informal to the anal retentive, based on who’s running the group and how many paddlers are involved.  Here’s are some observations I’ve made based solely on their websites…

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Two Rivers for the Price of One

Starting Out on the Enoree

This time our Lowcountry Unfiltered group got two rivers for the price of one, plus a few ghosts and goblins thrown in for good measure. On Saturday we paddled a portion of the Enoree River to its confluence with the Broad River, then down to our take-out at Strother’s Landing.

Planning this trip proved to be a challenge. The group wanted to paddle an Upstate river, but didn’t have the boats for whitewater. There was also the matter of distance. These guys would be driving for 3-4 hours just to get here, so the paddling trip couldn’t be too long. If they’re driving that far, then the trip needs to be worthwhile, and not a drag through the mud.

My first plan was to paddle a stretch of the Tyger River. It had all the elements I needed – it was remote, full of history, and even a ghost story. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much water when Bob and I paddled it last month. It was more of a muddy hike while dragging boats.

Fortunately, I was able to find a suitable route. We would put in at Keitt’s Bridge on the Enoree near Maybinton and float to its confluence with the Broad River, then paddle down to Strother’s Landing at the Highway 34 Bridge. According to Google Earth, the route would be about 7 miles. This route takes us through Sumter National Forest, so it’s suitable remote, and there’s even a ghost story – The Hound of Goshen.


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Scouting the Tyger

Bob on the Tyger

Our friends from Lowcountry Unfiltered wanted to do an Upstate River this fall. Since I’m the only one in the area that regularly paddles with them, I was tasked with finding a suitable trip. I had scouted the put-in and take-out points on a section of the Tyger River that flows through Sumter National Forest, and thought it might make a good trip. Today Bob Donnan and I scouted the section to see if it would, indeed, be a good paddle. Long story short – it wasn’t. However, it was a good day on the river, and that is always better than a day doing just about anything else.

I had my doubts about this trip. It had been raining all weekend, and when I got up Sunday morning there were flash flood warnings for Oconee County. However, I had the boats and gear already loaded onto the truck, and a phone call to Bob reported that they hadn’t received much rain. We decided to head on down to the river and check out conditions before committing to the trip.

I met Bob at our rendezvous point and we drove to the put-in at the Rose Hill Boat Ramp. Both of us remarked that this area seems “ancient”. There is very little development, and it seems remote. Sumter National Forest covers most of the region, and large hunt clubs have bought up huge tracts of land. The area seems almost mystical, as if just about anything beyond the realm of reality could happen.

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Lake Fairfield Paddlefest

New Kayaks

My nephew, Chip, helped design all of the websites for Confluence Water Sports, which includes Perception Kayaks, Dagger Kayaks, Wilderness Systems Kayaks, Mad River Canoes, Harmony, and a bunch of other brand names. As such, he had an early heads up that Confluence was having it’s first ever public sale at it’s corporate headquarters at the old Perception plant in Easley. Demos and seconds were going to be offered at ridiculously low prices. So on Friday Chip and several of his work buddies headed over and bought a boatload of …well, boats. The most convenient place to try all of this out was at our little lake, so this weekend we held the first ever Lake Fairfield Paddlefest.

Late Friday afternoon the flotilla arrived – a total of six kayaks of various types to add to the five I already have in the back yard. Chip, his wife Anna, and two of his work colleagues, Ed and Chris, were there to give the boats a trial run.

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Jocassee – Paddler’s Paradise

I really wanted to get out on my new boat. With the entire day available for paddling, I decided to head up to Lake Jocassee. I had paddled Jocassee many times, but our excursions were always rather limited. I was stoked to get out on a boat that could actually get me somewhere and see parts of the lake I had not seen before. This turned into a review of a paddling destination as much as a review of the new boat.

It seems that I’m always starting off in a fog. That’s been more physical than metaphysical lately, with a foggy start to last week’s Edisto trip, and now with fog blanketing the Upstate. Most of it had burned off by the time I arrived at the upper boat ramp at Devil’s Fork State Park. Continue reading “Jocassee – Paddler’s Paradise”

The Curative Powers of the Edisto

This was not a good sign. Pinpoints of light danced across my vision as I checked last minute e-mail. The truck was loaded, and in a few minutes I would be heading south to Sumter to spend the night with my brother, Stephen. In the morning we would join the band of miscreants known as Lowcountry Unfiltered for another epic journey down the Edisto River. A migraine headache was the last thing I needed.

I had taken some preventative medicine and decided to go for it. The drive down was interesting, as various extremities alternately numbed and chilled. As long as I kept my eye on the road and didn’t look down the visual aura stayed to the edges. I managed to keep a couple of plain McDonalds hamburgers down and make it safely to Steve’s.

The day broke full of deep fog. We still had a two-hour drive to the put-in, and we speculated about how cool it would be to paddle through this. We might even stumble upon some ancient civilization, kept hidden until the mist burned off. Given our knowledge of the area, this was a real possibility. Continue reading “The Curative Powers of the Edisto”

Paddling Up Cedar Creek

Lots of Green

Bob D. was up for a paddling trip, and we both wanted to do something besides the Green River or the Tuckaseegee. I suggested Cedar Creek in Congaree National Park, and Bob agreed.

The last time I paddled Cedar Creek it turned into an uphill death march, as we had paddled our canoes downstream, then tried to paddle back upstream to get to our cars. I was determined not to repeat that mistake. Initially we were going to take two vehicles and do a point-to-point paddle from Bannister Bridge to Cedar Creek Road, which would be about eight miles downstream. However, since it was a fairly long drive down there and there were just two of us, we decided to put in at Cedar Creek Road, paddle upstream for awhile, then paddle downstream with the current while we were tired. Made more sense to me. Continue reading “Paddling Up Cedar Creek”

Rope Swings, Rednecks, and Riverfest

It’s the second Saturday of the month, so it must be time for another Lowcountry Unfiltered adventure. Our goal was to retrace our tracks from July of last year and paddle a section of the Edisto River from Mars Old Field Landing down to Givhen’s Ferry State Park. This time, against their better judgment, my brothers Stephen and Houston agreed to come along.

Houston met me in Greenville and we loaded up the boats, then spent the night at Stephen’s place in Sumter. Early that morning we headed on down for our rendezvous with the rest of the gang.

Saturday was also the date for the Edisto Riverfest. We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of crowds, both at the parks and on the river itself. We decided to leave the boats with Stephen at the put-in, then drop off the truck at the take-out. That way if things got bad we could paddle straight through and load up and go without having to wait for the rest of the group. Turns out that wasn’t going to be a problem. Continue reading “Rope Swings, Rednecks, and Riverfest”