Vivid blues and greens. Breezes as relaxing as sighs. Crystalline waters rippling like smile lines. Thrushes and warblers soaring overhead as woodpeckers tap out a constant beat.
Rivers and lakes abound with natural beauty. Spartanburg County, South Carolina is overflowing with ways to splash into the blue, whether you crave heart-pounding adventure or relaxing shoreline vistas.
Spartanburg’s waterways are calling for you. Here are ten ways to make a splash and beat the heat.
Kayak the Pacolet River. Over 50 miles of river recreation runs from downtown Spartanburg to the town of Lockhart. A popular, four-mile paddle route from Clifton Beach to Goldmine Road includes Class I and II rapids and averages two hours to complete. Enjoy a combination of slow-moving water and short rapids in a rural setting past wildflowers and trees.
Run or pedal the Cottonwood Trail at Edwin M. Griffin Nature Preserve. Located just minutes from downtown Spartanburg, this 115-acre urban preserve protects a 1.5-mile stretch of Lawson’s Fork Creek and several feeder streams. While providing a safe haven for plants and animals, the preserve also offers five miles of trails through wetlands, across open spaces, and around geological formations to explore by foot or bike. Canoe and kayak areas are also available.
Picnic near Historic Anderson Mill. Located along the North Tyger River about eight miles southwest of downtown Spartanburg sits South Carolina’s oldest standing mill. The remaining structure dates from the 19th Century, but the history of this spot runs deeper: Spartanburg County was officially founded here in 1785. While the mill is being restored and is not yet open to the public, the location sets the stage for a scenic picnic.
Cast a fishing line in Lake Tom Moore Craig at Croft State Park. Grab your valid South Carolina fishing license and head to this quiet 165-acre watershed teeming with largemouth bass, bream, catfish, and crappie. Cast a line from shore or from aboard a non-motorized boat; if you don’t own a boat, rentals are available on site. Overnight camping at this former U.S. Army training camp is available if you want to start fishing at the crack of dawn.
Wade into the Tyger River or its shallow pools from multiple access points. Tyger-10 Nature Park, a private park that’s open to the public, offers river access to enjoy kayaking, fishing, and swimming. You can also hike alongside the beautiful river on a flat, wide trail that’s just under a mile long. The easy path is family- and dog-friendly. Tygerberry Landing at Berry’s Pond offers a new ADA-accessible kayak and canoe launch, the first of five new access points that will be added to the Tyger River Basin. You can also hike the scenic nature trail, enjoy waterfront views in the picnic area, cast a fishing line from the pier, and relax hanging in the hammock stand.
Float down Lawson’s Fork Creek from Goldmine Road to Upper Pacolet Shoals on an easy four-mile route past rural scenes. This meandering two-hour paddle offers mostly flat water, with spots of Class I rapids as the river approaches Pacolet Mills.
Motorboat around Lake Bowen. One of three lakes owned and operated by the Spartanburg Water System, Lake Bowen boasts 33 miles of shoreline and 1,534 acres of water. The lake welcomes motorboats as well as kayaks and canoes. Just stop by the Warden’s Office on site for a permit. You’ll find easy access thanks to two boat ramps at Anchor Park, where you can also find picnic pavilions, a playground, and fishing pier.
Splash in Beaverdam Creek at Campbell’s Covered Bridge. Spartanburg County’s quaint town of Landrum is home to South Carolina’s only remaining covered bridge. The small creek flowing under the bridge is a picturesque place to wade in and cool off. This area also makes for a quaint picnic setting.
Stand Up Paddle Board at Lake Cooley Park and Outdoor Education Center. The rapidly growing water sport of stand up paddle boarding combines the balance of surfing with the paddling of kayaking for a unique physical challenge. Lake Cooley’s 330-acres of calm water on Jordan Creek invite first-timers as well as anyone looking to hone the technique. Rent gear and even take a class if you’re not quite ready to get out there on your own. Kayaks, canoes and pedal boats are also available for rent. Beautiful Lake Cooley also offers two public fishing piers, a dual access boat ramp, a pavilion, and shelters.
Paddle with the Glendale Outdoor Leadership School. Join a two- or four-hour group kayak trip on the Pacolet and Lawson’s Fork Blueway and you’ll learn about the sport and local area from an experienced guide along the way. Private lessons are also available, a great way to help you prepare to tackle whitewater rapids. After all, the best way to explore the blueways of Spartanburg County is safely.
Free maps of Spartanburg County’s waterways are available at local retailers including The Local Hiker http://www.thelocalhiker.com/. You can also search paddle routes on an interactive map at GoPaddleSC.com. https://www.gopaddlesc.com/ For more information, explore VisitSpartanburg.com. https://www.visitspartanburg.com/