As many rivers and lakes as I've paddled in South Carolina, I'm still discovering great new places to throw in my kayak. Thanks to a group of fellow paddlers from Columbia Outdoor Adventure Network, I recently added the Wateree River Blue Trail to my list of favorites.
Buffered by forests on both sides of the river, the Wateree offers a quiet setting to get away from it all.
Or not. After a Duke Energy water release, sections of this otherwise placid river turn into rollicking riffles and low-level rapids creating a playground for fun-loving kayakers
The 8-mile section we paddled from the Lugoff Landing just below Lake Wateree Dam to the public boat ramp under the Highway 1 bridge can be shallow at times, keeping motorboats out of the area. Even kayakers can find themselves high and dry on the rocky shoals if they're not careful.
At one point, I took the left fork around some rocks and found myself stuck in the shallows. I had to push off the bottom with my hands and scooch my kayak forward to get back into navigable water.
While I always enjoy the natural beauty of an undeveloped river, the real fun on this trip came when we hit the whitewater. Several times along the way, we stopped to surf a rapid. To catch a ride, you have to paddle against the current, get up into the chute and keep your boat from turning sideways and getting swept away by the rush of water.
Most of the riffles and rapids were on the first section of the Blue Trail. Toward the end, it's a slow float trip down a lazy river.
You can check Duke Energy's scheduled flow releases on the Wateree by clicking here.