Every kind of watercraft, from pontoon boats to paddleboards, can be found cruising around the 48,000-acre lake. Dads pulling teens on kneeboards. Jet skiers flying over wake and waves. Swimmers floating on noodles in protected coves.
But that doesn't mean you can't find a quiet place to paddle a kayak or drop your fishing line. The upper reaches of the lake offer less-traveled waters where one can get away from buzzing motorboats and tube-pulling pontoons and bask in the serenity of Saluda's rural landscape.
A great place to put in is at Little River Landing off U.S. 378 on Hollywood Road. The first half-mile of the paddle will take you under a bridge past a few private residences. After that, it's all trees.
The channel quickly narrows as it turns the corner and makes its way around a thickly wooded peninsula. It was on the backside of the waterway that I spied a large beaver lodge. Later in the trip, we discovered more evidence these industrious rodents have made themselves at home here.
While we did run across a number of anglers, they were fishing quietly from small boats anchored at various spots along the creek. Lake Murray is a prime fishing area for a variety of species, including channel catfish, carp, bluegill, sunfish and smallmouth, largemouth and striped bass.
There are also plenty of winged visitors to be found back in this stretch of woodlands. On any given day, you may spot eagles, herons and wood storks, among others.
About four miles into the paddle, we came to Big Creek. Here the channel really begins to narrow. Ready for lunch we beached under a power line easement to refuel and rest. We were not the first to stop here. Laying in the brush was a log that appeared to have been chomped on repeatedly by our lodge-building friends.
When they're not felling trees for the construction of dams, beavers need to grind on wood to wear down their teeth, which never stop growing. Their dental handiwork turned a stick of wood into what looked like a string of pearls.
Back on the water, we continued to make our way up Big Creek. We got another mile up river before we came to a tree that had fallen across the waterway. Blocked by the timber, we had no choice but to turn back and head for home.
If you don't have your own kayak, you can rent one from Get Your Gear On at SouthShore Marina in nearby Leesville. Call (803) 799-0999 for prices and hours of operation.