Kayak the Broad River in Columbia

By:Marie McAden

Date:6/26/2011

The Broad River might run through the middle of Columbia, but you’d never know it paddling along a stretch of the waterway just a few miles from the state capitol. It’s all pines and hardwoods up both sides of the river without so much as a house or high-rise in sight.

I joined a group of kayakers last weekend on a float trip two miles up the river from Harbison State Forest. Although the water level was a bit low, we had no trouble paddling over shallow areas and around jumbles of large rocks in the river.

With the current pushing us along at a leisurely, steady speed, it didn’t take a whole lot of strokes to make our way downstream. I thoroughly enjoyed drifting past the forested landscape, mesmerized by the sound of my paddle pulling through the quiet waters.

And then we hit the Class 1 rapids. OK, they were barely ripples, but it was exciting nonetheless. It was no trouble getting past the fast-moving water, even in a 17-foot sea kayak.

It took us just over an hour to reach Harbison State Forest’s Middle Creek Landing, marked by a pink plastic ribbon hanging from a tree. With the water level being on the low side, it was a little tricky pulling our boats up the embankment. Before you plan your trip, I recommend checking with the Harbison Forest rangers’ office to be sure there is sufficient water in the landing channel.

To use the Middle Creek Landing as a put-in or take-out, you’ll need to fill out a float plan at the Harbison Education Center. There is no fee to use the landing, but you are required to purchase a $5 parking pass available at fee boxes in the parking areas.

For more information on Harbison’s landing facility, click here or call (803) 896-8890.

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