Canoe and kayak enthusiasts will find a wealth of South Carolina waterways suitable for kayaking and paddling a canoe. The most daring paddlers can brave alligators in Lowcountry waters. If you would rather avoid the reptiles, Upstate and Midlands regions have plenty of options, too.
South Carolina Lowcountry is home to the Edisto, Ashley, Cooper, Ashepoo and Combahee rivers, which all drain into the Atlantic Ocean. Paddlers traveling the Ashley River Heritage Trail are able to see the remains of 18th- and 19th-century shipwrecks on the six-mile trail, which begins at Old Dorchester State Park and ends at Middleton Place Plantation. The Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail begins in Walterboro, and offers 56 miles to paddle from Walterboro to Charleston. Also connected to the Edisto is the ACE Basin River System, which allows paddlers to travel the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers to see historic planations and undeveloped wetlands in the Lowcountry.
In the upstate, paddlers can travel the Chattoga River, beginning at the Overflow Creek Bridge, just off Highway 28 at the South Carolina and Georgia border. Beginning and moderate paddlers will enjoy the gentle river and Class I and II rapids from Greenville to Earl's Ford. More experienced paddlers may want to brave the Class III and IV rapids at Earl's Ford to Lake Tugaloo. Spartanburg County is home to Lawson's Fork Creek, which offers 14.5 miles of paddling past mill towns and local animals. Paddlers traveling the length of the bridge must portage around White's Mill Dam approximately three miles into the trip.
The Midlands region of South Carolina is home to numerous rivers, including the Enoree, Catwaba, Lower Saluda, Congaree, Tyger and Broad. Paddlers can travel the 36 miles of the Enoree River, starting at Jones Bridge in Laurens County. The Enoree River is narrow and shallow in most places. Starting at Saluda Shaols Park, paddlers can travel 9.5 miles on the Lower Saluda River in Lexington County. The river contains Class III to Class V rapids as it passes the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia.
SC State Parks
Many of South Carolina's state parks offer trails for paddlers. Goodale State Park in Camden offers a 1.5 mile trail across Adams Mill Pond. Also in the midlands, Aiken State Park allows paddlers to explore 1.7 miles of the South Fork Edisto River. In the Lowcounty, Old Santee Canal Park near Moncks Corner provides paddlers with two miles of paddling on the Old Santee Canal. Although not a state park, Charleston County Parks' Caw Caw Nature & Interpretive Center in Ravenel offers canoeing through historic rice fields where paddlers are able to see alligators and other wildlife up close.
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