The Saluda Scenic River (commonly known as the "Lower Saluda") is recognized as an outstanding recreational river. The tailrace waters from Lake Murray Reservoir provide a cold water fishery and varying river flows for recreational boating. Popular activities on the Lower Saluda include fishing for trout and striped bass, whitewater and flatwater paddling, and tube floating. With its proximity to the Columbia metro area and adjacent public access sites at Saluda Shoals Park, Saluda Riverwalk, and Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, the Lower Saluda stands out among the recreational paddling opportunities in the state.
The ten-mile section of the Saluda River in Lexington and Richland Counties, from below Lake Murray Dam to the confluence with the Lower Broad River, was designated a State Scenic River in 1991. Additional information about the Lower Saluda River can be found at the Congaree Riverkeeper website, here.
CAUTION: Be aware that water conditions on the Lower Saluda River can be dangerous. Operations at the upstream Lake Murray Dam can cause river conditions to change rapidly and produce strong currents, cold water, and large rapids. The 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 boater, it's advised to portage Mill Race 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.
Lower Saluda River water is cold, about 60 degrees F, because it comes from deep within Lake Murray. Swimmers can experience hypothermia, even in the summer if you are not prepared. River rapids, up to Class IV, begin downstream of the I-26 bridge. Many rapids produce large hydraulics as river flows increase. All river users who are boating, swimming, or wading should wear life jackets.
Before paddling, check the Dominion Energy website for planned Lake Murray Dam operations and flows to the Lower Saluda. If the flows are high (yellow or red flow range) and you are an experienced whitewater paddler, then take the necessary safety precautions; otherwise, stay off the river.
Adjacent Waterways: downstream, Broad River and Congaree River.
Featured trips for this waterway showing difficulty (circles) and current runnability status (squares). .