Running 200 miles from Greenville to Columbia, the Saluda River offers plenty of opportunity for fishing, tubing, kayaking — and rock hopping.
That’s right. There’s a section of the river that flows for several hundred yards over water-sculpted granite outcrops or shoals randomly scattered about to allow those of us with a fun-loving spirit the chance to hop across the water from bank to bank.
You’ll find this unusual geologic attraction in the town of Ware Shoals, named after the famed river rocks and the family that owned the land in the area. Irvin Pitts Park lies along the shoals, offering visitors access to the river and its picturesque setting. In the summer, it’s a popular spot to wade in the water or enjoy a picnic lunch.
About a hundred yards wide at points, the river can be crossed at low water by stepping from one carved rock to another. You just have to be careful which section of the shoals you pick to cross. The river can be as deep as 15 to 30 feet in some areas.
When I visited the park earlier this winter, I had no trouble finding a path that offered little risk of falling into anything more than knee-deep water. It was great fun jumping from rock to rock. Several ducks and geese seemed amused by my antics, turning to watch as they swam between the shoals.
The park is sandwiched between the Saluda and a canal, which conducts water from a dam to a hydroelectric powerhouse that supplied electricity for the village of Ware Shoals for most of the 20th century. Located at the point where Abbeville, Laurens and Greenwood counties meet along South Carolina’s Heritage Corridor, the community was once one of the largest textile manufacturing centers in the southeastern United States.
Every year, the park hosts the Catfish Feastival, a family-friendly event celebrating one of the Saluda’s most-beloved residents. This year’s weekend extravaganza takes place from May 23-25. To find out more about the Feastival, click here.
Irvin Pitts Park is off of Highway 25 on Powerhouse Road. Want more information, click here.