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Waterlee River Blue Trail

  • 1001 Washington Street Columbia, SC 29201
  • P. (803) 771-7580

The Wateree River Blue Trail begins near Camden and winds 75 miles to meet the Congaree River Blue Trail at Congaree National Park. The initial 8-mile segment, dominated by rocky shoals, changes downstream with increasing sinuosity as it flows through floodplain forests. Its east bank is bordered by Manchester State Forest and Poinsett State Park for the lower third of the trail. The newest addition to Congaree National Park lies on the west side of the river for the trail's final 10 miles. Due to its extensive floodplain there is little development along the river. It is possible to paddle for days without seeing a soul. In 2010, Kershaw County took bold steps to protect the blue trail and its clean water by unanimously passing a new package of zoning and land development regulations. An ordinance is included in the package that protects all rivers and streams by requiring a 100-foot strip of trees and plants along the riverbank to limit polluted runoff that flows into the county’s waters.American Rivers worked closely with planners and others in the county to develop the Wateree River Blue Trail in an effort to reconnect communities to the recreational, economic, and cultural values of the Wateree River and to protect the river’s clean water. Together, the Congaree & Wateree River Blue Trails offer the best opportunities for multi-day river recreation and camping east of the Mississippi. From the basin of the Wateree, 68 m., US 1 climbs to a high ridge of the Sand Hills. On both sides lie troughs and crests of ancient shore lines with their growths of scrubby blackjacks and stunted pines. Here and there among the ranges are ponds fed by springs or wet- weather streams. US1 between Columbia and Aiken continues to follow the fall- line, the demarcation between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain areas of South Carolina. Owing to the dry, sandy nature of the soil, for many years the chief vegetation of this Sand Hill section consisted of scrub oaks and stunted pines enlivened occasionally by blue lupine or other small, hardy flowers. When Washington traveled over this route in 1791 he commented: "The whole road from Augusta to Columbia is a pine barren of the worst sort, being hilly as well as poor."