Paddle Congaree Creek in Cayce

By:Marie McAden


Are you ready to limbo? In a kayak? If you’re paddling Congaree Creek in Cayce you’ll need to master the Caribbean game to get under all the limbs and branches that have fallen across this narrow waterway.

I recently joined a group of intrepid paddlers ready to take on the Congaree Creek challenge. To add to the adventure, we did it in a steady rain.

We began the trip from the access point near the bridge between Interstate 26 and Old Dunbar Road on Charleston Highway (U.S. 176/321). A short path through the woods leads to a small clearing where you can launch your boat right off the bank of the creek.

The current in the narrow waterway is fairly brisk, making for an easy ride. Or at least it would be if there weren’t so many trees and branches in the creek. It takes some quick maneuvering to keep the free-flowing water from pushing you into the strainers.

While there is plenty of arboreal refuse to keep you on guard, not all of it is in the water. Some of it hangs across the creek, offering paddlers the chance to play limbo. Most of the fallen trees are easy to get under. There were only a couple of instances where paddlers barely scraped below limbs that were particularly close to the water.

But that’s what makes this paddle so much fun. It’s an obstacle course created by Mother Nature. If that weren’t enough, the creek winds through the woods like a corkscrew. At several points, I found myself making hairpin 180-degree turns.

When I wasn’t concentrating on avoiding strainers, I was thoroughly taken by the beauty of the secluded woods. Except for the water below us, we were surrounded by trees in every direction, including skyward. The thick canopy of limbs made it feel like we were traveling through a tunnel.

The only sign of civilization was a concrete railroad trestle we passed beneath near the end of our paddle.

As we came to our take-out at the SCANA campus on 12th Street near I-77, the creek divided into two forks. I went with the group that took the narrower passage to the right. We didn’t have to portage, but we had to pull our boats through a tight section, using our hands to propel ourselves over fallen branches.

Just before the passage reconnected with the main channel, we came upon a fallen tree lying too close to the water to get under. One of the paddlers in our group was kind enough to raise the four-inch thick tree above our heads allowing us to travel through unimpeded.

I look forward to kayaking on this creek again on a sunny day. If you don’t have your own boat to paddle, you can rent one from Palmetto Outdoors or River Runner Outdoor Center.

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