South Carolina’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters are populated with avid outdoorsman casting from their boats for their next big catch, but for some, getting out and exploring the water means taking it slow. Paddling is a wonderful way to relax and escape the demands of the real world while taking in the natural beauty of the parks. Paddling options are limitless as there are numerous destinations, many along scenic rivers, where you can stroke the beautiful waters of South Carolina.

Paddling also provides opportunities to get up close and personal with nature. Hiking trails don’t allow guests to view aquatic plants and other flora the same way paddling the river does, and the quiet setting offered by shorelines and riverbanks can be a haven for wildlife trying to escape the central activities of the park.

The small lakes at SesquiTable Rock and Oconee state parks are perfect for beginners who want to hop in a kayak or canoe and familiarize themselves with the basics of paddling. Once you’re comfortable with your skills, check out the 3-mile canoe trail at Goodale! Then, if you are really seeking an adventure, try out the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail; a 23-mile stretch of the slow-moving Edisto River connecting Givhans Ferry and Colleton state parks. You can also try 50 miles of paddling trails in the Little River Blueway Adventure Area that includes Hickory Knob, Baker Creek, Hamilton Branch, and Calhoun Falls state parks.

Regularly scheduled kayaking and canoe trips are held at a handful of locations for paddlers not quite ready to go solo, or who want to learn about the natural and cultural environment of the parks. Cheraw State Park’s group canoe floats let guests watch the sun set over Lake Juniper as they paddle to the headwaters, and return to the park by moonlight. Educational coastal kayaking trips through Huntington Beach’s salt marsh and the waterways near Hampton Plantation’s old rice fields set out regularly during the warmer months.

Not all parks allow private boats, but many provide half-day and full-day rentals.

Explore the Park Finder to find a park that suits your paddling needs or click here to find a paddling program or event near you!