Three Rivers Run Through It
Right near the South Carolina State House in the middle of beautiful downtown Columbia (aka Cola aka Soda City aka Capital City of SC), you can dawn your waders and go fly fishing for trout, bravely paddle Class IV whitewater, serenely float down a lazy river and zip line from the trees over that water. What other capital city has as much to offer as Columbia? And the three rivers run through it!
Thanks to Columbia’s three rivers – the Saluda, Broad and Congaree – this urban center has become a vacation destination for the kind of outdoor fun one would dream of. Along with all of the afore mentioned water activities; visitors can walk, run, cycle or skate on miles of paved trails that run along the water’s edge. Now that we know a little history, let’s take a look at some of the fun and fantastic things you could do on these Columbia waterways.
Fly fishing on the Saluda
Released from the bottom of Lake Murray, the dark blue tailwater of the lower Saluda hovers around 53 degrees, providing a sustainable habitat for trout. From late May to early September, the river also boasts one of the largest concentration of stripers on the east coast. Frank’s Fly Arts and Saluda Valley Guides offer private fishing charters on the Saluda in rubber rafts.
Canoe the Congaree
Designated a National Recreation Trail in 2008, the slow-moving Congaree River starts at the confluence of the Saluda and Broad rivers and takes paddlers through the old Granby locks through a waterway once navigated by steamboats, tugs and canal boats headed to Charleston. Carolina Outdoor Adventures offers an 11-mile guided day-trip on the Congaree Saturdays from June through early August.
Kayak the Saluda
While high water levels can create Class IV and V rapids on the Saluda, the dam-fed river typically sports Class II and III whitewater. On summer weekends, Palmetto Outdoors and Adventure Carolina offer guided trips through the section of the river with the calmer shoal rapids. Some paddling experience is recommended for this trip. If you decide you want to paddle the Saluda River, try checking in with Go Paddle SC here – https://www.gopaddlesc.com/waterways/trail/saluda-river
Tube the Saluda
The water might be chilly, but in the summer it’s the coolest place to be in famously hot Columbia. Sitting comfortably in a rubber tube, you’ll drift down two miles of this picturesque waterway-with a little whitewater thrown in for fun. The cascading rapids are so mild, you can take small children on this one. Palmetto Outdoors offers tubes and shuttle service for $15 to $20.
Zip line over the Saluda
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s canopy tour, takes participants on a breathtaking 1,000-foot run over the scenic Saluda. Starting from a platform that sits 25 feet up a tree, you’ll glide 75 feet above the water at speeds reaching 35 miles per hour. Tours are offered seven days a week by reservation only.
Tubing Down The Saluda
If you like to go tubing down the Saluda River, The Upstate, Saluda Outdoor Center in Easley will provide you with a tube, life jacket and shuttle for a two-hour float trip. If you want to experience the Lower Saluda—the section below the Dreher Shoals Dam on Lake Murray—you can rent tubes from Saluda Shoals Park or Palmetto Outdoors in Columbia. Both provide shuttle service. For do-it-yourselfers, Dolly Cooper Park in Powdersville features a tubing loop that allows you to float downstream for a quarter mile, then take out and walk back to the put-in on a paved trail and do it all over again. You’ll need to bring your own floatation device but admission to the park is free.
Take A Walk On The Water
Those who like to take a walk on the water will have several opportunities on the Saluda River. Check out the Saluda Riverwalk, a 7.30 mile, out and back trail near The Reserve On The Saluda neighborhood. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 3 hours and 3 min to complete. This is a popular trail for backpacking, fishing, and paddle sports, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
Columbia’s Three Rivers Greenway also makes for a sensational place to take a walk on the water. It is comprised of a handful of disconnected segments of open trail, including sections through Riverfront Park and Granby Park, as well as the West Columbia Riverwalk, Cayce Riverwalk, and Saluda Riverwalk. This beautiful series of riverfront pathways, at the confluence of the Broad, Saluda and Congaree rivers, includes lighted trails and boardwalks, an outdoor amphitheater, restrooms, wayside exhibits, picnic areas, and scenic overlooks. The paved paths wind through a forest of Southern hardwoods and are home to a variety of wildlife, including chimney swifts that nest under the numerous bridges. Another highlight is a view of the remains of the canal locks once used by riverboats. You can also fish or toss an inner tube in the water on a hot day and float the river. In addition, the Three Rivers Greenway is close to shopping and restaurants in South Carolina’s capital city.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article about the rivers of Columbia, SC. If you’d like to live amongst these beautiful rivers of Columbia and want a custom built home to do it in, Lady Street Builders has a terrific array of plans to inspire you, we could build from your existing plans, or we can build your vision from the bottom up. We’ll build on your existing land or we have properties that you may like. Contact us today