Ten Days on the Lynches Scenic River Water Trail
After a shuttle run, we launched from the Sardis Baptist Church Landing at Highway 403 at 10 a.m. The river channel at the landing is one of several anabranching channels (a type of braided channel with vegetation on the islands) in this section of the river. Here, the Lynches River meanders back and forth across the flood plain, affording the boater an opportunity to decide which channel to take. On any given day, one channel may be easier to travel than the others, so your day can quickly become longer than planned. Not long after leaving the landing we spotted old pilings crossing the river, which later research revealed were the remains of an old railroad crossing. This section has several old ferry, bridge and railroad crossings— look for places where old pilings cross the river, along with visual cuts or raised land forms stretching into the swamps.
As we approached S.C. Highway 301, we heard the sound of rushing water along with traffic noise. The rushing water turned out to be an old road bed that had fallen to the bottom of the river during a flood event, creating a one-foot slide, or rapid, at low water — what fun! We stopped under the bridge to play in the slide. Additional old pilings under this bridge told us that other structures were built here in the past. The Highway 301 Bridge does not have a formal boat launch. However, a path on the river left leads to the road for primitive throw in/out access. I recommend that you do not leave any vehicles on the side of the road at the 301 Bridge. We did not stop here as our destination was another primitive throw in/out access at S.C. Highway 55, also known as McAllister Mill Road. The access point is just beyond the McAllister Mill Road Bridge on river right, a large sandbar area. As we did not have Internet access on the river, I buried a vertical stick in the sand at the water line, and planned to check it the next morning. This is a good way to determine if the river is rising or falling in height. This section took 7 hours to paddle 15 river miles at a flow of 302 cfs or 2.91 feet on the Effingham gauge. We traveled to the Lynches River County Park campground where a hot shower and a good night’s rest awaited us.
This day gave us our shortest shuttle drive and easiest paddle of the trip. Arriving at the throw in on Highway 55 at 10 a.m., we found my buried stick about six inches from the river, telling us that the river level was falling. If we wished to spend the night on the river, good camping sandbars would be easy to find. As we started down the river, we noticed signs of beaver activity, such as chew marks on the bases of trees and on limbs over the river, as well as a possible den behind a root ball of a fallen log. Later, a river otter poked its head out of the water and took a look at us.
Around noon, we arrived at the Lynches River County Park canoe launch, where we pulled our canoe into the launch area and stretched our legs by walking up the hill to check out the new educational discovery center. There we learned that rain clouds were forecast, so we quickly continued on. Just past the canoe launch the river width narrows and marl areas are visible along the banks and the river bottom. At the big turn in the river, there is a lake-like area where Sparrow Swamp joins the river. On past trips when the water levels were higher, I have paddled up the swamp channel to enjoy the blackwater ecosystem. After the large curve, the river straightens out for a while, and during times of higher water levels this is a popular spot for water-skiing on the weekends. At low water you can walk on the marl areas in search of Mesozoic-aged oyster fossils (Exogyra costata) and sharks teeth left long ago when this area was under the ocean. A light rain began as we approached the Highway 52 Landing and then soaked us as we finished loading the boat and equipment. This section took 4 hours to paddle 8 river miles at a flow of 244 cfs or 2.49 feet on the Effingham gauge. As it was a Friday, we headed home for the weekend.
— Mary Crockett, State Scenic Rivers program coordinator.
© 2011 South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, September - October 2011 - www.scwildlife.com