Top 10 Paddling Adventures in South Carolina

By:Marie McAden


Like to paddle? You’ve come to the right place. South Carolina’s 2,876 miles of coastal shoreline, scenic whitewater and black water rivers and abundance of freshwater lakes offer visitors a diversity of settings to paddle a kayak, canoe, raft or standup paddle board.

Here are the Top 10 Paddling Adventures in South Carolina

1. Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River. Paddle the river Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight made famous in the 1970s adventure thriller “Deliverance.” Wildwater and the Nantahala Outdoor Center offer rafting trips on 31 miles of the river heralded as some of the best whitewater anywhere.

2. Swamp to Sea. The ultimate Lowcountry paddling adventure, REI’s Swamp to Sea four-day kayaking trip takes you from densely forested swamplands, along the former rice trade route, through a wildlife-rich estuary to unspoiled barrier islands in the Santee Coastal Reserve.

3. Congaree National Park. One of the best ways to explore the park’s magnificent floodplain wilderness is in a canoe or kayak. Take a free guided tour with a park ranger or book a tour with Palmetto Outdoors.

4. Edisto River. This 250-mile black water river winds through pristine cypress and tupelo swamps in the ACE Basin, one of the largest undeveloped wetland ecosystems on the Atlantic coast. To add to the adventure, spend the night in one of Carolina Heritage Outfitters’ riverfront trees houses.

5. Waccamaw River Blue Trail. One of only 21 river trails to be designated a National Water Trail, this black water passage meanders 100 miles through the protected bottomland hardwood swamps of the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, passing through the historic riverfront towns of Conway and Georgetown before ending in Winyah Bay.

6. Capers Island. Guided kayak tours to this beautiful undeveloped barrier island start with a journey through the dynamic environment of an estuary teaming with wildlife. A state heritage preserve, Capers features a diversity of habitats, drawing more than 294 species of migratory birds. Coastal Expeditions offer both day and overnight trips to the island.

7. Lynches River. Take a trip down the black water Lynches and experience the wild wetland terrain that earned Francis Marion the nickname “Swamp Fox”. A pioneer of guerrilla warfare, the Revolutionary War hero attacked the enemy with ferocity and then disappeared into the swamp. RiverRats offers boat rentals and guided tours of the black water river.

8. Little River Blueway. Located within Sumter National Forest, the 51-mile trail follows the Little River and the shoreline of Lake Thurmond, passing two state parks along the way. Secluded sections of the Blueway include creek backwaters and a vast marsh ecosystem. Kayak and canoe rentals are available at Hickory Knob State Resort Park.

9. Morris Island Lighthouse. Charleston SUP Safaris offers a guided stand-up paddle board tour from Folly Beach to the historic Morris Island. You’ll paddle through the surf zone, across the mouth of the Folly River to the lighthouse, built in 1876 to help guide sailors into Charleston Harbor.

10. Kayak fishing on Lake Moultrie. With its shallow coves, stump fields and tupelo and cypress trees, Lake Moultrie has become a popular destination for kayak fishing. Blueway Adventures offers guided trips on the 60,000-acre lake, known for its abundance of largemouth bass, stripers and catfish. Kayak and fishing tackle are included.

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