Travel Guide To Charleston Paddling Adventures
Ready to explore the waterways of Charleston, SC? Our guide to the best paddling adventures in Coastal Carolina provides local insight into some of the best places to paddle in Charleston.
Edisto River — from Givhans Ferry State Park (near Summerville): As the world’s longest free-flowing blackwater river with 300+ miles of waterways, the Edisto is a natural treasure. For a scenic daytrip, drop a car at Long Creek Landing on Hwy 17A. Then head 10 miles upriver to Givhans Ferry State Park. To make the trip an overnight, camp at the sandy bank across the river from Long Creek landing. Then continue 10 miles the next day to Martin’s Public Landing.
Directions from Charleston: Take I-26 to exit 199 (Hwy 17A) and head south. About 10 miles after passing through Summerville, you’ll cross the Edisto River. Turn righ on McDaniel Town Rd. (State Rd. 91). A second quick right to Long Creek Landing. To reach Givhans Ferry State Park, continue north 2 miles on McDaniel Town Rd., then turn right when it dead ends onto Pierce Rd. (State Rd. 35). In 4 miles you’ll reach Hwy 61, turn right and Givhans is on your left.
Capers Island (Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge): That Capers Island exists as an undeveloped, public island is one of the Lowcountry’s greatest natural assets. Although Capers borders the Cape Romain Refuge, it is maintained by DNR and primitive camping is allowed with permit. The easiest kayak route is from the Isle of Palms Marina. Simply head north on the Intracoastal Waterway for 4.5 miles. You’ll pass Dewees Inlet, Dewees Island, and then reach Capers Inlet. Avoid the crowded south facing beach by paddling out toward the ocean and around the island’s tip. You’ll have beachfront camping to yourself.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 N through Mount Pleasant until you reach the Isle of Palms Connector. Once on IOP, turn on Palm Blvd. and a quick left onto 21st Ave. Take a right on Waterway Blvd. and continue 1.7 miles to a left at 41st Ave. The marina is 200 yards on your right.
Folly River to Bird Key (Folly Beach): The myriad of tidal creeks running behind Folly Island are a fine a place to explore by kayak. From the landing (on your right when you drive onto the island), head left to the mouth of the Stono River. The island blocking the inlet’s mouth between Folly and Kiawah is Bird Key, one of the largest rookeries in the state. On your return, meander up the creeks on your left.
Directions from Charleston: Take the James Island Expressway until it dead ends into Folly Road. Take a left and continue straight until you reach Folly Beach.
Wambaw Creek Canoe Trail (McClellanville): This winding blackwater creek is one of the Lowcountry’s finest places to paddle. From Still Landing, canoes and kayaks can head either direction through the cypress/tupelo stands that line the creek. Warblers, kites, and wildlife are abundant. If you have a second car to drop, it’s a 5 mile paddle from Still Landing to Wambaw Landing.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 N to McClellanville, turn left at the blinking yellow caution light onto Hwy 45 (French Santee Rd.). Go 4 miles to right onto Mill Branch Rd. (Forest Service Rd. 211). Drive 3 miles and turn left onto FS 211-B. Continue 0.5 mile to Still Landing. To reach Wambaw Landing, continue 4 more miles past the turn for FS 211-B on Mill Branch Rd. (FS 211).
Bohicket Creek to the Edisto River (Wadmalaw Island): From Cherry Point Landing, head right past the historic village of Rockville into Bohicket Creek. You’ll soon reach the open waters of the Edisto River and Botany Bay. Cross the expanse to the large creek opening just ahead and to your left. Dolphins are abundant here. Paddle into Privateer Creek, the narrow opening just to the right of your reentrance to Bohicket Creek. Legend has it that Blackbeard used to pull in here to clean his ship’s hull.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 S and bear left after the Ashley River Bridge toward Folly Beach. Pass EarthFare and bridge, and take a right onto Maybank Hwy./SC 700. Continue across James Island, cross a bridge, then continue straight across Johns Island. Once on Wadmalaw, bear left at the split after 7 miles (remain on Maybank Hwy.), then continue 9 miles to Cherry Point Landing.