Float Down the Lynches River

By:Marie McAden


It might not get the fanfare of the Chattooga River or some of South Carolina’s other popular waterways, but the quiet, unassuming Lynches River has some serious bragging rights of its own. It is the longest scenic river in the state with 111 miles of pristine, postcard picture-worthy blackwater winding through the deep swamp forests of the Coastal Plain.

Not only is the Lynches River one of South Carolina’s best-kept secrets, it’s the easiest float trip you’ll ever take in a canoe or kayak.

Moving at a steady one- to two-miles per hour, the lazy river pushes boaters along with very little effort. The five-mile section I kayaked recently was a good 30 feet wide with virtually no strainers. Not only did I drift most of the way down, I hardly had to steer.

And the setting couldn’t be prettier. Huge bald cypress and tupelo trees line the banks creating a canopy over the tea-colored water, tainted dark by the tannins in the leaves. During our 2.5-hour trip, I saw few signs of civilization. Mostly, it’s dense forest up both banks of the river.

The Lynches’ unspoiled beauty is surpassed only by its historical legacy. Once traveled by Native Americans who built settlements on its bluffs, the river is named after Georgetown rice planter Thomas Lynch Jr., the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. It later served as a hideout for slaves during the Civil War and as the site of the state’s last duel.

Traveling almost 175-miles from just above the South Carolina border through Lee, Darlington, Florence and Sumter counties, the Lynches empties into the Great Pee Dee River near Johnsonville.

General Francis Marion, known as the “Swamp Fox”, had a base camp on Snow Island located at the confluence of the two waterways. The river also was the battle ground for other Revolutionary War skirmishes between General Thomas Sumter and the British.

We hooked up with River Rats Canoe Rental near Indigo Landing in Scranton to take us to the river. For $30, this friendly, family-owned and operated outfitter will rent you a kayak and shuttle you to a private put-in five miles up the river. A 10-mile trip starting at the Highway 52 Landing is $40.

If you have your own boats, they’ll shuttle you for a small tip to cover the cost of gas.

“We want to get people out on the river to experience it,” said owner Barry Frick. “The more people who enjoy it, the more of a voice we’ll have in protecting it.”

The family’s 16-acre riverfront homestead offers campsites, a volleyball court, clean bathrooms and a sandy landing to put in or take out your kayak. On the Saturday we were paddling, Barry and his wife, Marie, were on hand to help us load boats onto the trailer. After hopping aboard their comfortable bus, we made the short drive to the put in where they helped us launch into the water.

This inviting river quickly worked its magic on me. I was swept away by the serenity of flowing with the slow-moving current. With little paddling or maneuvering to worry about, I was able to soak in the beautiful wooded surroundings. The cypress trees in some sections of the river are simply magnificent. One had a large opening at its base big enough to fit a family of six.

The five-mile paddle passed all too quickly. Even with a short break at a sandy beach along the river, we were back at River Rats in about two and a half hours.

If you’re interested in booking a trip, call Barry at (843) 687-1673 or click here. You won’t be disappointed.

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