This section of the Lower Saluda Scenic River lets you experience scenic whitewater right in Columbia. A series of rapids and shoals lead you to downtown Columbia, which offers a refreshing splash and a dose of adventure on a hot summer day.
Hand carry boat launch with plenty of parking.
Cayce Riverwalk (west bank) and Senate St. Landing (east bank) are both hand carry boat launches on the downstream side of Gervais Street Bridge.
The first couple of miles are flat and calm on cold, clear water. After crossing under the I-20 bridge, the river is a series of shoals and rapids. There are great opportunities to picnic on rocks and look for river otters at shoals and an island just downstream of the I-20 bridge. Each side of the island contains small rapids, O Brother Rapid to river right, Ocean Boulevard Rapids to river left. A mile downstream is Stacey's Ledge, followed by the Millrace Rapids, which are a favorite play spot for whitewater kayakers.
CAUTION: Millrace Rapids can be dangerous, especially at high water, and could cause injury to you, your boat, or your possessions. If you are not an experienced whitewater kayaker, portage these rapids. A portage trail (shown on the map) begins in a power line right-of-way just upstream of Mill Race Rapids on the right bank (south side) of the river on the Riverbanks Zoo property. You will pass under the pedestrian bridge at the zoo, and through Shandon, Whitehouse, and Hampton Street Rapids (small but fun) before reaching the Gervais Street bridge.
Check the SCE&G website for planned dam operations before paddling.
This trip can be extended to other take out points on the Congaree River downstream of downtown. However, the Thomas Newman Landing, about three miles downstream of downtown, is the last access for another 50 miles.