This Saturday is National Trail Day and American Rivers will be celebrating by dedicating a Blue Trail on the Wateree River. A Blue Trail is the water equivalent of a hiking trail and allows river enthusiasts a designated area to canoe, kayak, fish, of even hike along side in South Carolina. The Wateree Blue Trail will be 80 miles long beginning in Camden and passing through Kershaw, Sumter, and Richland Counties allowing for multiple night camping trips along the underdeveloped river corridor. Matt Rice, Associate Director of Southeast Conservation for American Rivers says that the purpose of the blue trail is to encourage people to take pride in their natural resource.
“The goal of our Blue Trails program is to–by highlighting the river resource and building a constituency behind it–to reconnect people and communities to their river,” said Rice, “and to inspire them to protect it for generations to come.”
Rice says anyone interested in kayaking or canoeing these Blue Trails is encouraged to do so. He says that experience is not necessary. According to Rice, “For the Congaree River, the Wateree River, and our new Waccamaw River Blue Trail that we’re working on right now, you don’t need to be very experienced at all.
“It is relatively flat water. In the Congaree River there’s some shoals in the upper section that require a little bit of negotiation and the same goes for the Wateree River as well but once the rivers cross the fall line…the river is characterized by big bends and sand bars…it’s flat water and any amateur could paddle it and enjoy it.”
There are also guide books to assist individuals navigate these rivers. Rice says these maps can be very valuable to the recreator. “We create a map and we create a guide book that helps people use the river. They know where to put in they know where to take out. They’re aware of the dangers that exist on the river. They’re aware of critical habitat areas. They’re aware of private property. They’re aware of national parks, state parks or the state forest along the trail. They can more effectively and more enjoyably and more safely use the trail.”
The Wateree is the second Blue Trail in the state with one on the Congaree and another planned for the Waccammaw.