We started our journey in Edgefield County at the SC 283 bridge, Turkey Creek. Our float plan was to paddle this river through the Sumter National Forest, past where it joins with Stevens Creek and finish 12 miles down river of our starting point at the SC 23 bridge on Stevens Creek near Modoc in Edgfield County.
My friend Jim and myself have been keeping our eyes on this river for the last two years waiting on enough flow to paddle this river. The creek needs to be at least two and one half feet to have enough water to make this endeavor plausible. The draught conditions that have been plaguing our state the last couple of years have made this impossible, but with the wet weather we have had the last several months our chance finally came. Rain the weekend before and rain on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning gave us a lovely three and three quarter foot river level on Friday with no more rain expected to late Friday afternoon.
Four of us came together for this trip. Jim, Uncle Carl, and Myself, the three adults, took the day off from our Jobs. Caleb, my fourteen old nephew, played hooky from school. What good are Uncles if they do not encourage a little carelessness every once and a while.
The river had a very lively flow as we got started and the muddy water had a certain charm about it. The first thing we noticed was the obvious water damage high on the hills and trees around us. Checking later I discovered that the river had flooded the week before and had been over twenty foot higher then it was while we were on it to reach a height of twenty six feet. I would not have wanted to be on it but I sure would have loved to see it.
The river had the unusual combination of large rocks protruding out of the small gorges walls and Cypress trees and knees scattered about the banks. It had the feel of paddling the mountains as well as paddling the swamp. Very unusual, but very cool also.
After around one hour or so of paddling, a close encounter with a beaver and two portages over log jams we crossed under Keys Bridge. This is an old steel framed bridge with a wooden floor. Half of the planks are gone and vegetation grows out of the ones that are left making for a good place to stop and take a couple of photos.
We left Keys Bridge and proceeded down stream. The river took on a whole new life from there. It widened a little, picked up flow and we soon were upon our first set of several sweet little class one rapids and shoals that were spaced perfectly apart on this river. If anyone is looking to try a little whitewater for the first time this is the river to do it on, just make sure you have at least one person with experience paddling whitewater in your group.
After the river joined with Stevens Creek it widened considerably and slowed just a little. There were still a few shoals and once while paddling we saw a tree fall over into the river. This was my first time to witness this in action. They tree gave loud pops as it broke from its base and water shot in all directions as it landed. A very impressive show of nature, and not one I will soon forget.
As our trip came near to an end we hit one last short rapid. This was a solid class two and it gave us a very exciting splash of water at the bottom of it. I regret that I did not get a picture of this rapid, it came out of nowhere and I did not have time to get my camera out, but it is burnt in my memory anyway. As we drug our canoes up the steep banks to the parking lot it started to rain, perfect timing.
The whole trip took around four hours to complete, but I imagine it to take a bit longer if you tried to do it with less flow. We saw not one other person the entire time on the river and we had the only vehicles at either of the parking lots, which were well maintained. This is, as of yet, my favorite paddle.
Plenty of hotels in nearby N.Augusta
Camping is allowed in the National Forest with a free permit that can be obtained at the ranger station in Edgefield. No permit needed to paddle.
The bulk of Turkey-Stevens Creek is one half hour north of North Augusta, SC in Sumter National Forest. You can get a map from the Ranger Station in Edgefield, SC.
Paddling South Carolina by Gene Able and Jack Horan