Ten Days on the Lynches Scenic River Water Trail
Kimberly and I met at the Highway 52 Landing early Monday morning and began paddling downriver at 9 a.m. This section is nice and straight, with a clear, well-defined channel. Motor boats use this section of the river, so we did not have to log jump or limbo under any downed trees. Limestone/marl outcroppings and sandy point bars make for interesting exploring. During low water, you can see sandy areas where cold water springs bubble up from the river's edge or flow into the river from riparian banks. Two to three miles below the Highway 52 Bridge, the road and rail noise from the highway diminishes and the stealthy boater will notice the quiet. Jeffords Landing, located about three miles downriver from the Highway 52 Landing, is a gravel landing situated on a river meander cut-off or oxbow. Because it was low water, we walked up the oxbow to photograph Jeffords Landing and the oxbow. We traveled past the oxbow on the new cut. A few miles downriver we discovered another new cut around an oxbow called "Crane Neck."
Following a swim and lunch break on a sandy point bar, we entered a lake-like section, called "Shell Lake" by local boaters, before gliding under the Highway 49 Bridge. A sandy, public landing is just past the bridge on river left. After passing a high bluff on river left at a sharp bend in the river Jakes Lake enters the river on the right. We began searching for a good camping sand bar, finding one just upstream from Indigo Landing and an outfitter business called the River Rat. Owner Barry Frick rents canoes/kayaks and offers guided river trips. Camping on sandbars along the Lynches River during periods of low water where the point bars are located below the ordinary high water mark is legal in South Carolina. In the Lynches Scenic River Water Trail Guide we review camping opportunities as well as camping protocol and ethics. This section took 6 hours to paddle 11 river miles with a flow of 194 cfs or 2.11 feet on the Effingham gage.
We began our paddle at 7:30 a.m., passing a small, public dirt landing known as Indigo Landing and Barry’s outfitter and guide business on river left where we stopped long enough for Barry Frick, Randy Stone and Sam, a black lab, to join us. By 8 a.m. we passed Cockfield Landing on river right and glided under a set of power lines. Near the power line crossing, we spotted lots of beaver sign — gnawed trees, stripped branches we called beaver sticks and a possible lodge behind a fallen root ball. Around 8:30 a.m. we passed signs of an old bridge and landing area on river right. Then it was decision-making time – an oxbow with a new cut, a "Y" or a "T" view from river level. We looked at aerial photos and a Global Positioning System (GPS) device for information, river flow in each direction and for noticeable downfall to determine our navigation choice. We chose the new cut. Just past the new cut was a large house with an expensive wooden retaining wall, a good landmark indicating we were close to the Highway 378 Bridge. We stopped at the dirt landing at the end of Wicklow Road for a short break. Just past Lee Landing, on river right after the Highway 378 Bridge, we once more had to choose whether to take the new cut or the old channel. Again we took the new cut – this was becoming a pattern! At 11 a.m. we stopped for a break at a public dirt landing called Cemetery Road Landing. As we continued down the river our two guides regaled us with stories, fish tales and childhood memories such as learning to swim at Hitch Landing on this section of the river.
We talked to Daniel Ward as he fished from a sneak boat just past our lunch sandbar stop. The last half of this river section of the trail is a large swamp floodplain forest, giving us many options as to which channel to paddle. At high water, even more channels would be open to the adventurous boater. The prudent boater should look for the best water flow and an open channel; luckily, we had maps, GPS and two guides with us, so our choices were well-thought out. (The path we followed is the trail/river line as presented in the published boating guide.) After passing Hitch Landing on river right, the channel winds its way across the floodplain to river left where there is a large rock bluff with fossils. Boaters use this bluff as a landmark to determine their next path. If you continue straight on this channel, depending on your choices you may end up a mile or so downstream of Half Moon Landing.
We took a small channel with fast-flowing water, winding through the trees past an old shad fishing hut and operation that led us to a lake-like area above Half Moon Landing. We ended the day at Half Moon Landing, bidding our river guide Barry Frick and his lab, Sam, good-bye as we enjoyed Randy Stone’s hospitality at his home. This section took us 10 hours to paddle 20 river miles with a flow of 237 cfs or 2.44 feet on the Effingham gauge.
— Mary Crockett, State Scenic Rivers program coordinator.
© 2011 South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, September - October 2011 - www.scwildlife.com