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Paddle the Serene Waters of Prestwood Lake in Hartsville

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.
More from "Libby Wiersema"

You'll need to zoom in to find Prestwood Lake on a map, but don't let the blue pinpoint fool you. What this 300-acre Hartsville reservoir lacks in size is easily eclipsed by its serene beauty. Small lake or large pond? Either reference is technically correct, though "picturesque paradise" might prove a more accurate summation after you spend a day here.

Don't own a watercraft? No sweat. Outfitter Hakuna Matuna makes exploration of the lake's lily-rich open waters and bewitching cypress swamps something everyone can experience. Whether you envision yourself on a paddleboard or kayak, owner Hannah Stanley can help you plan your perfect excursion. There's no better way to gain an appreciation for the Pee Dee, one of South Carolina's most beautiful regions and home to a network of interesting waterways.

Prestwood Lake was created in the late 1800s when Black Creek was dammed to accommodate the needs of a local industry. The name "Prestwood" refers to a family who owned adjoining land and ferried travelers across the waters; the only other way to cross was a wooden footbridge. Now, the footbridge has been replaced by a paved roadway, and ferrying has given way to recreational boating pursuits.

"Prestwood is such a beautiful resource, a hidden gem that wasn't being fully utilized," Stanley said. "I want to get people back out on the lake so they can experience it. We can make it easy to get out there, have fun and enjoy the scenery."

Make a full morning or afternoon of it. Meet at Lawton Park, then Stanley and crew will drive you to a put-in point on Black Creek. Paddle your way through Prestwood Lake back to the park. This trip, which takes approximately four hours, is popular with the kayaking crowd. Take time to wend your way through shady lanes of cypress, their branches festooned with lacy Spanish moss. Turtles and water fowl abound; take along a pair of binoculars to get a close-up look.

You can also put in at Lawton Park, a great choice for groups with children. Give your kids the coolest birthday party in town by letting them burn off energy paddling the water and running in the well-kept playground. Then, serve up cake under one of the shelters at the historic park, a recreational area established in 1938 through President Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration.

Pack a picnic to enjoy while on the water or at the park after your excursion. Or, head to Hartsville's vibrant downtown - just blocks away - for a bite to eat at one of the city's many cafes and restaurants.

Whatever your plan, the staff of Hakuna Matuna, which includes Stanley's brother, Noah, and father, Billy, will meet you and supply everything you need for your lake adventure: life vests with whistles, paddles and, of course, your vessel. In addition to paddleboards, there are single and tandem kayaks, each outfitted with padded seating for your comfort. For those not confident in their navigation or paddling skills, a guide is available to lead you on your journey.

Find more information and make reservations here.

Libby Wiersema
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.