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North Fork Edisto River in South Carolina

Trip Overview

I enjoyed a solo trip down this extremely winding blackwater river with a strong current of 600cfs. I picked the stretch from Shilligs Bridge down to Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg. The bicycle shuttle is only 5.4 miles but after performing an in-depth analysis of satellite imagery I concluded the river distance paddled was over 12 miles when all the twists and turns are accounted for.

I have paddled many Class 2 and 3 whitewater rivers all over the country and this was my first experience on one of these type rivers. I wanted to avoid mosquitos, snakes and gators so a beautiful February day at 60 degrees seemed like a great time and I was right.

The water was tea colored and I could see many white beaches on bends of the river but they were ALL underwater with a relatively high flow. There was absolutely NOWHERE to pull over and take a break as the river was mostly out of its banks flowing into the cypress knee forests.

I was paddling a Dagger Sojourn which is a TRACKING canoe and NOT the best choice for this small twisty and pushy river. It was actually quite challenging keeping the right lines and picking my way through many very narrow passages around sweepers, strainers and cypress knees.

The scenery was very pretty and with all the spanish moss and cypress knees looking like small people watching me it felt quite mysterious. At one bend I heard a very loud splash in the water about thirty feet behind me and it was really shocking because it HAD to be an alligator. This is someplace you would NOT want to get in trouble or have a boating accident due to its remoteness and very difficult terrain for walking out. I certainly don't recommend going solo but I have made probably 150 solo trips in my life so I am comfortable doing so.

Overall, I HIGHLY recommend this trip and might consider doing it again when the greenery of spring vegetation returns but of course this means snakes, gators and skeeters.

Accommodations:

Orangeburg has PLENTY of accomodations

Fees:

None

Directions:

In Orangeburg just find Edisto Memorial Gardens or even better would be SPRAY PARK just about 1/2 mile upstream on Riverview Drive. This is the takeout and this put-in is off Shillings Bridge Rd (SSR-74) called Baughmans Landing about 5 1/2 miles to the Northeast.

Resources:

The DeLorme Atlas & Gazetter and Several websites of organizations devoted to the Edisto River watershed. Just do a web search.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip

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