From its origins in the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Greenville to downtown Columbia, the Saluda River flows through South Carolina for 200 miles, creating a wide array of recreational opportunities along the way.
From trout fishing to tubing to kayaking, the river offers something for everyone. You can walk trails along its forested banks, go ziplining over the water or rock hopping across shoals. Kayakers and canoeists can paddle through quiet stretches of the river or brave rip-roaring rapids for a thrilling adventure ride.
Here are eight fun things to do on the Saluda River:
1 – Tubing
In the Upstate, Saluda Outdoor Center in Easley will provide you with a tube, life jacket and shuttle for a two-hour float trip. If you want to experience the Lower Saluda—the section below the Dreher Shoals Dam on Lake Murray—you can rent tubes from Saluda Shoals Park or Palmetto Outdoors in Columbia. Both provide shuttle service.
For do-it-yourselfers, Dolly Cooper Park in Powdersville features a tubing loop that allows you to float downstream for a quarter mile, then take out and walk back to the put-in on a paved trail and do it all over again. You’ll need to bring your own floatation device but admission to the park is free.
2 – Kayaking
Whether you prefer a peaceful paddle on a slow-moving stream or the excitement of whitewater, you can do both on the Saluda. Paddlers with their own boats can get information on trip routes and access points for both the Upper and Lower Saluda on www.gopaddlesc.com.
Don’t have a boat? Rent one from a local outfitter or take a guided kayaking trip. In Piedmont, Saluda River Rambler offers kayak rentals and shuttles for a 6-mile trip. A 9.5-mile trip will be available in the future. Along with tubes, Saluda Shoals Park provides both canoe and kayak rentals and shuttle service for a one-hour paddle. The park also offers guided sunset paddles and private guided canoe and kayak trips. If you have your own transportation, you can rent a kayak or canoe at River Runner Outdoor Center in Columbia and map out your own trip.
One of the most exciting sections of the Saluda runs through Columbia, where the remains of a dynamited coffer dam has created rapids that can range from Class III to Class V, depending on the flow of the river. You can put in at the new Saluda Riverwalk and paddle to any one of the access points downstream. Along the way, you’ll encounter several Class II-plus rapids.
3 – Biking
Prefer to stay on dry land? You can still enjoy the river environment from trails that wind along its banks. In Columbia, the scenic 2.5-mile Saluda Riverwalk runs past a stretch of the tributary that includes the famed Millrace rapids, a favorite play area for whitewater boaters. You can watch them perform pirouettes, stern squirts, flips and other whitewater boating tricks from an observation deck on the trail.
Saluda Shoals Park also offers a 2.5-mile bike-friendly greenway along the riverfront with an observation deck for viewing wildlife.