Gauge height was 14.65 feet, discharge was 86 cubic feet per second, and water temp 66 degrees at peak. This will make a difference in your trip experience.
Approximately 24 miles paddled from SC-176 Bridge to Strothers Landing. Launch to takeout was about 27 hours. The last part of the trip when you're on the Broad River is a dream. The mileage before, not so much...
At the last minute, we cut out the first 17 miles that started at Jones Bridge, and I'm glad we did. We were somewhat pressed for time as it was. The river is not well taken care of by forest service. Any log jam you do get by without having to portage is a result of random cuts in the timber by random people throughout the years... and in some of those cases you have to find a "path" through the branches to avoid a portage... keep a keen eye, you can possibly save yourself MANY portages (I squeezed through a tree root ball and an embankment somewhere after the 11 mile mark.
Launching at SC-176 bridge, we hit at least 10 portages. Somewhere between miles 1-10 there were about 4 portages including a log jam I dubbed "Mount Trashmore"... named after a park I used to visit in Virginia Beach. It's literally a landfill that was turned into a park. This logjam was one we had to shimmy across 2 trees, climb across garbage and shaky footing to get past it (pictures displayed). Between miles 10-the confluence with the Broad, there's approximately 6 more log jams, once which we actually had to go up around into the woods (picture displayed). My buddy claimed to see a large boar the day before, and we saw what looked like signs of boars as we cut through the woods here. (He also claimed to see two bobcat cubs up in a tree in the first 5 miles or so. I couldn't confirm this, but I did see a figure of a catlike creature crawling around high up in a tree, so there is some truth to it.)
There is also very low water at times to the point it's just easier to get out and drag it instead of scooting.
Cold water can be a factor with this. If the levels are higher and/or it's summertime where everything is warmer and dries quickly after getting wet, putting up with the portages might not be so bad, just bring plenty of water for the work you'll be doing. A 14.5' kayak can be difficult at times because there are a TON of obstacles that are fun to play in, but the length of the boat can be difficult to maneuver as needed, especially in faster water. Portages are rough at times... prepare to get your feet wet.
You might think that the water levels being higher will reduce portages, and that's not necessarily the case. There were some areas we got around because of how low the levels were... 6 inches higher and we may not have been able to pass 2 logjams (but it's uncertain how many less we would have to portage due to much higher levels). All in all, whether the levels are low or high, I believe you will be portaging... at least until someone takes care of all the downed trees in the river... it's like a cemetery for trees!
... you've been warned :)
Shallow water throughout.
See trip description. Not for the faint of heart.
2-3 Day Trip
River/Creek (Up to Class II)
- Number of Portages: 20