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Camping Fee Required Handicap Accesible Parking- Dedicated Lot Roadside Parking Restrooms / Toilets

Lower Saluda: Gardendale to Downtown Columbia

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Lower Saluda: Gardendale to Downtown Columbia

Skill Level: Difficult
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Rapids: Class I , II , III , IV
Length: 6.3 miles
Duration: 2 - 4 hours
Portaging: No
What to Expect

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.

Access
Put in:
Gardendale Access (SCE&G)
Access Details

Hand carry boat launch with plenty of parking.

Take out:
Cayce Riverwalk or Senate St. Landing
Access Details

Cayce Riverwalk (west bank) and Senate St. Landing (east bank) are both hand carry boat launches on the downstream side of Gervais Street Bridge.

Trip Details

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.

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Lower Saluda River (Credit: Nate O'Neill)
Gervais St Bridge, take-out available on each side of river. (Credit: Tanner Arrington)
Saluda River Black Lab (Credit: Marc Epting)
Pine Tree Rope Swing (Credit: Marc Epting)
Great Blue Heron (Credit: Marc Epting)
Trip Resources
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River Flow (CFS)
Discharge flow information
CURRENT CFS
Flows for safe padding (cfs)
MINIMUM
700
MAXIMUM
20000
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Flow Level
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Skill & Flow Level
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Access Amenities
Parking - Dedicated Lot
Parking - Roadside
Restroom / Toilets
Fee Required
Handicap Accessible
Camping
Paddle SC is presented by
Upstate Forever
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
South Carolina National Heritage Corridor
Rainey Foundation