Ashley Scenic River
A 22-mile segment of the Ashley River of Dorchester and Charleston Counties was designated a State Scenic River in two parts; one in 1998 and the other in 1999. The designation extends from US Highway 17-A Bridge to I-526 Bridge. The Ashley is a tidal river with a variety of natural habitats and historic sites of regional and national significance.
Adjacent to the Ashley Scenic River are 26 separate sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places including Drayton Hall, Middleton Place, and Fort Dorchester. As a tidal river, the Ashley supports a diverse ecosystem of transitions where wildlife and vegetation patterns shift longitudinally based on the presence and mixing of the saltwater and freshwater environments.
Partners for the Ashley Scenic River Project serve on a local advisory council, which represents local landowners, river users, community interests, and SCDNR. Participation has included residential property owners from Ashborough, Ashley Point, Kings Grant, Mateeba Estates, Drayton Athletic Association, Covington Hill, and Lambs Road. Other key participants include: Drayton Hall, Dorchester Boat Club, Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, Middleton Place, Summerville CPW, SC Sea Grant Consortium, SCDHEC-OCRM, MeadWestvaco, and Lowcountry Open Land Trust.
The Ashley Scenic River Management Plan (PDF) was created in 2002 by the Ashley Scenic River Advisory Council and the SCDNR. The plan serves as a guiding document for the Advisory Council and specifies management goals and recommendations that address water quality, recreational use and access, preservation, conservation, land management and development.
The Ashley Scenic River may be experienced and enjoyed from several historic properties as well as public parks and boat landings, which are listed below in order from upstream to downstream locations.
Richard H. Rosebrock Park – Provides walking trails to the upper Ashley River just upstream from Bacons Bridge. The site is on the south bank and accessed from Beech Hill Road.
Ashley River Park – Currently under development, this park is located on the north bank of the Ashley River adjacent to Bacons Bridge Road and the Ashborough subdivision.
Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site – This location is one of the earliest European settlements in South Carolina. It is the townsite of Dorchester, a trading village started in 1696. Today the site features ongoing archaeological surveys, historic structures, exhibits, and walking trails along the Ashley River. The site is located off Dorchester Road in Summerville.
Jessen Landing – This public landing on the Ashley River provides a boat ramp, docks, fishing pier, boardwalk along the river, and plenty of parking. The site is located in Summerville at the end of Ladson Road just off Dorchester Road.
Ashley River Road – The State's oldest highway parallels the Ashley River. The road was established in 1691 and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Scenic Byway. Many historic properties are located along Ashley River Road and the river, including Middleton Place, Drayton Hall and Magnolia Gardens.
Middleton Place – This is a National Historic Landmark site, the location of America's oldest landscaped gardens, laid out in 1741. This property was the home of four distinguished South Carolinians. Visitors enjoy historic gardens and structures, exhibits and programs. Open daily, admission fees are charged.
Drayton Hall - This is a National Historic Landmark site. Established in 1738, this plantation house is the only one left on the Ashley River that survived the Revolutionary and Civil Wars intact. Drayton Hall is considered one of the finest examples of Georgian-Palladian architecture in America. Visitors enjoy the historic house and grounds, exhibits and programs. Open daily, admission fees are charged.
Magnolia Gardens - This is a 300-year-old plantation that has been in the same family since the arrival of Thomas Drayton from Barbados in 1671. Magnolia includes one of the country's oldest gardens. Visitors enjoy the historic gardens, structures, exhibits and programs. Open daily, admission fees are charged.
Wando Woods/Flynn Street Landing – This site is at the end of a residential road, Flynn Street, ending at the Ashley River in North Charleston. No parking is available at this site.
Pierpont Landing - This public landing is located on Church Creek which enters the lower Ashley River from the west. This site is located at the end of Cedar Lane, which is off Parsonage Road in West Ashley. Parking is very limited at this site.
County Farm Landing – This public landing on the Ashley River provides a boat ramp with docks and plenty of parking. The site is located in North Charleston at end of Bridge View Drive just downstream of the I-526 Bridge.
If you go boating, be aware that currents and water levels in the Ashley River are influenced by daily tidal fluctuations.