Having never been on Saluda Lake before this summer, I’ve now paddled it three times in four weeks. I’m actually surprised at how it’s become a nice quick paddling destination for when we want to get out on the water.
Friday Alan and I headed out and launched from Saluda Landing at the end of Motor Boat Club Road. Once again we paid the steep access fee for our two little kayaks. The more I think about this, the more I realize what a rip-off this is for kayakers. Motor boats can launch for $8, but kayaks and canoes are $5 each. A motor boat usually can carry more than one person, so it works out to be a better deal.
Again, we had the annoyance of having to paddle south to avoid the silted-in portion of the lake. This time, though, we kept paddling south, out toward the main portion of the lake. This would be new territory for us.
The lake isn’t very wide, and there are only a few little coves off of the lake. It’s more like a broad river than anything. We encountered a bit of a headwind, but nothing too bad. One or two boats were out on the lake and stirred up a bit of wake, but, again, it was manageable.
As we got closer to the dam, it seems that the houses seemed to get much nicer. The houses were bigger, and didn’t seem to be jammed as close together as those around the landing. There were also a variety of boat houses – from a four-boat garage, all the way down to several obviously abandoned places.
We were making good headway, and soon we were at the Saluda Water Treatment facility on the Pickens County side of the lake. Just past the water plant we spotted a boat ramp, and a possible solution to our launching dilemma.
It turns out that this is, in fact, a public ramp operated by the water facility. There is a $5 parking fee, but that’s much better than the other place. I’ll have to find this on a map and see how convenient it is to get to. However, it must be very new, because it doesn’t yet show up in either Google Maps or Google Earth.
We explored a couple of small coves, but soon found ourselves at the dam. There was a barrier preventing boats from getting too close to the dam spillway. Unfortunately, this barrier prevents people from launching kayaks near the dam, so the established landings are the only access. This would also be a problem if someone were doing a longer trip on the Saluda and needed to portage around the dam. There are a couple of trails, but I’m not sure how “official” they are.
We had paddled down along the Pickens side of the lake. On the way back we paddled along the Greenville side. Slightly north of the dam is a lakeside condo complex called Harbor Town. There was a nice lakeside pool and a marina. We paddled up a little channel that went back up past the condos.
There had been a jet ski running back and forth along the lake. The two young girls riding it weren’t paying a bit of attention to kayaks. Looking at all of the boats in the condo marina and all the boat houses along the lake, we wondered what would happen if all of these folks decided to go boating. The lake was hardly big enough for the one jet ski that was buzzing around.
The Greenville County side is higher and rockier than the Pickens County side. Also, there were more open stretches of lake shore than I thought there would be. The urban areas of western Greenville are crowded, so it was surprising to see the nice houses along this side of the lake and the wide open spaces. However, some of the places looked to be abandoned. There was a run-down gazebo atop a rocky point that looked like it would be a great place to hang out.
By this time clouds were building, and we needed to head back before the coming storms hit. It was a good paddling trip, and it was nice to find another access point on the lake. I’m still concerned about potential boat traffic. Perhaps on Saturday I’m going to have to find this new boat ramp and just take a look at the boat traffic.
Even so, Saluda lake gives us a variety of paddling experiences. We can get back into some remote coves, there’s lake paddling, and we can head upstream on the Saluda River for an even more isolated paddle. After 35 years of living in Greenville, I’m glad I’ve finally glad to have given this somewhat forgotten lake a chance.