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Upper Saluda River: Erwin Mill Road (Unofficial) to Maddox Bridge Road (Unofficial)

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Upper Saluda River: Erwin Mill Road (Unofficial) to Maddox Bridge Road (Unofficial)

Skill Level: Moderate
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Rapids: Class I , II
Length: 3.6 miles
Duration: 1.5 - 2 hours
Portaging: No
What to Expect

With many shoals at the Erwin Mill Road bridge, this trip starts off with exciting rapids. Paddlers will see a variety of wooded areas, rural countryside, and an abundance of wildlife. This short trip is perfect for experiencing Class II rapids.

Access
Put in:
Erwin Mill Road River Access and Roadside Parking (Unofficial)
 Erwin Mill Road, Honea Path, SC 29654
Access Details

River access is limited to the road right-of-way beside the bridge only. Do not use the path through the woods, it is private property. Limited roadside parking is available along the side of Erwin Mill Road, south/downstream of the bridge on river-left. The path to the river is brushy and has some riprap. This access is unofficial. Use at your own risk. 

Take out:
Maddox Bridge Road River Access and Roadside Parking (Unofficial)
 599 Maddox Bridge Road, Ware Shoals, SC 29692
Access Details

Very limited parking (~2 cars) is available along the side of Maddox Bridge Road, north/upstream of the bridge on river-left. A trail leads from the road to the river. This access is unofficial but widely used. Use at your own risk. 

Trip Details

Maddox Bridge Road is a short 10 minute drive from Erwin Mill Road; shuttling cars should not take more than half an hour. This trip starts out with some exciting Class II rapids, shoals, and small drops. You will encounter more Class II rapids and shoals along the trip.

Upon nearing Maddox Bridge Road, paddlers will see an island. The island can be navigated on both the right and left channels, however the right channel may be easier. Maddox Bridge Road is the only road crossing along this trip. Take out upstream of the bridge, river left. A trail leads from the road to the river; very limited roadside parking is available. For more information see The Upper Saluda River Blueway map.

River access at Erwin Mill Road is limited to the road right-of-way beside the bridge only. Do not use the path through the woods, it is private property.

Waterway: 

Comments (3)

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John Evatt
Sep 06, 2020 10:17 am EDT
We run this section a lot .Stay in the middle of the first rapids and let the current guide you. you will do fine. There’s a ledge drop about a mile down river and if look on river left you will see the water spray / bubbling up a little, go over the ledge there . After the sand bar about a mile the river bends to the right and you should stay river left. The water flows better there. Then aways down ,the river splits and you’ll see a cabin on the right. At the cabin you can take the left fork and run two set of rapids one at the beginning and on at the end on that little island. The final rapid, before the take out ,stay in the middle of the river . This is a great little run a lot of fun for adults and kids . Have fun and enjoy this section as much as we do
Adam Protheroe
May 04, 2020 8:14 am EDT
Ran this section 5/3/20 at around 2k CFS. At this level I agree the rapid below Erwin Mill Rd. bridge (Rutledge Shoals I think?) is a II+ if not III. It's long and would be tough to pick a clear line from the boat because of the first drop, which is maybe 2'-3'. Recommend scouting from the bridge unless you're pretty experienced in whitewater. We hugged the right bank of the river left channel around the island taking a short slide over the first drop. At the bottom the current will turn you downstream quickly and some upstream boat angle will help you end up in a clear channel. There's another maybe 2' drop around a mile downstream from Rutledge, but this is a single ledge and comparatively easy. We found a clear line river center, but there are others. Nice off the beaten path run. We put in at Holiday Dam and took out at Maddox bridge, which took about 4hrs including a short lunch stop.
Ben Cosby
Mar 30, 2020 10:55 am EDT
Just did this section yesterday (3/29/20) and the rapids below the Erwin Mill Rd. bridge were class III easy. Luckily we decided to jump out and scope them out from the bridge before running them. We decided to portage the kayaks around them. The CFS was around 1600. Just a heads up for the inexperienced or even moderately experienced kayakers.
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shoals below Erwin Mill Road (Credit: Upstate Forever)
Maddox Bridge Road trail leading from roadside to Saluda River (Credit: Upstate Forever)
Saluda River at Maddox Bridge Road (Credit: Upstate Forever)
Saluda River below Erwin Mill Road (Credit: Upstate Forever)
Beautiful Day On The Saluda (Credit: Brandon Burdette)
Rocky River Bank (Credit: Brandon Burdette)
A Rest Before The Rapids (Credit: Brandon Burdette)
Rutledge shoals below Erwin Mill Bridge Road at about 1300cfs.
Trip Resources
River Flow (CFS)
Discharge flow information
CURRENT CFS
Flows for safe padding (cfs)
MINIMUM
800
MAXIMUM
4000
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Flow Level
Runnable
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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