Paddling the ACE Basin

Paddling a canoe or kayak on one of the ACE Basin’s three rivers and assorted tributaries offers one of the best ways to observe wildlife,and the area’s abundant natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Canoeing on the ACE BasinSome of the more spectacular wildlife species vary with season.

During the winter, nesting bald eagles soar over all these areas and on sunny days alligators bask on the banks. In the summer, ospreys fish in the creeks, and both Mississippi and swallow-tailed kites glide above the treetops. In spring and summer, tropical migrant songbirds sing from forested creek banks.

Some of these trips begin or end in places without boat ramps, requiring paddlers to "throw-in" or "haul-out" their boats.

The following half-day trips rank among the most popular and accessible to ACE paddlers:

Combahee River

Trip: US 17-A to Line Canal

Launch: County Landing, US 17-A, Yemassee
Land: Line Canal bridge-Road 66 just beyond Bluff Plantation near White Hall, Colleton County
Length: 5 hours
Tide: Put in on falling tide. Tides are 5-6 hours behind Charleston Harbor.
Highlights: River view of Cherokee Plantation, boat house and main house, and large expanses of broken ricefields. The bluff at the junction of Line Canal and the Combahee River is where Forrest fished with his son. Several sand bars offer swimming opportunties.

Trip: Line Canal to Steel Bridge

Launch: Throw-in at Line Canal bridge on Road 66 at Bluff Plantation near Whitehall, Colleton County
Land: Steel Bridge Landing, U.S. 17, Beaufort County
Length: 5-6 hours by kayak. Experienced canoers, 8 hours. Not recommended for inexperienced canoeists.
Tide: Recommended early falling tide only. Tides are 5 hours be-hind Charleston at launch site.
Highlights: “Forrest Gump” scenery of Bluff Plantation, view of Parkers Plantation on Beaufort side (former home of W. Somerset Maugham).

Trip: Cuckhold’s Creek to US 17

Launch: Cuckhold’s Creek Landing, Road 66 near White Hall, Colleton County
Land: Steel Bridge Landing, U.S. 17, Beaufort County
Length: 5-6 hours
Tide: Launch on early falling tide. Tides at Cuckhold’s landing are 5-6 hours behind Charleston Harbor.
Highlights: Excellent bird habitat in Cuckhold’s Creek with broken bank ricefields available for exploring. During late spring and early summer spider lilies bloom along the banks. A view of the Comba-hee Plantation house on the right is available shortly after put in. Once Cuckhold’s Creek enters the Combahee, wind and tides can make for difficult paddling.

Ashepoo River

Trip: SC 303 to US 17

Launch: Throw-in at SC 303 bridge near Ritter in Colleton County. Parking is restricted to roadside near the bridge.
Land: Joe’s Fish Camp east of US 17. Ample parking - fee charged.
Length: 4-5 hours by canoe.
Tide: This trip can be accomplished during any tide. However, put-ting in on a falling tide is recommended. The tide at SC 303 is 5-6 hours behind Charleston Harbor.
Highlights: The early stretches of the paddle flow through densely canopied bottomland hardwoods. A late October, to mid-November trip can be highlighted by beautiful fall foliage. About three-quarters of the way through the trip take the large canal to the left which leads to historic Bonnie Doone Plantation. Now owned by the Charleston Baptist Assoc., the grounds and house may be viewed from the canal. Just below Bonnie Doone broken dike ricefields of-fer opportunities for exploring.

Trip: SC 64 to US 17

Launch: Throw-in at SC 64 bridge on Horseshoe Creek near Jack-sonboro, Colleton County. Roadside parking only.
Land: Joe’s Fish Camp just east of US 17. Ample parking; fee charged.
Length: 3 hours. Price’s Bridge landing offers a convenient lunch ground as well as an opportunity for a shorter trip.
Tide: Tides do not affect the upper reaches of Horseshoe Creek but planning a trip to coincide with the falling tide in the Ashepoo may be advisable. High tide at the US 17 bridge is 4-5 hours after Charleston Harbor.
Highlights: The upper reaches flow through closed canopy bottom-land hardwoods then open into old tidewater ricefields.

Trip: Feefarm Creek to Brickyard Landing

Launch: Throw-in at Feefarm Creek Bridge on Bennett’s Point Road (Road 26). Roadside parking only.
Land: Brickyard Bridge Landing on Road 26.
Length: 5-6 hours. Recommended for kayaks only.
Tide: It is important to travel on early falling tide. Tides at Feefarm are 4-5 hours after high tide in Charleston Harbor.
Highlights: Feefarm Creek was named because a lawyer in earlier days was given a farm bordering the creek as a fee for services rendered. This relatively deep creek offered schooner access for plantations bordering the creek. After entering the Ashepoo, notice the changes in vegetation as you pass from fresh into more saline environment. The old Seaboard Coast Line which crosses the river above Airy Hall Plantation marks the official fresh/salt dividing line. Airy Hall Plantation house is located on a bluff overlooking the river. In the lower reaches of the river, wind and currents can make paddling more difficult.

Edisto River

Trip: Martins Landing to Westbank

Launch: Martins Landing off Road 38 in Charleston County
Land: Westbank Landing off Road 30 in Colleton County
Length: 3-4 hours by canoe depending on river currents and tide
Tide: Tide is 3-4 hours behind Charleston Harbor
Highlights: This stretch of the river flows through bottomland hard-woods. A late fall float may offer beautiful autumn colors.

Trip: Penny Creek to Willtown Bluff

Launch: Penny Creek Landing off Road 38 in Charleston County
Land: Willtown Bluff Landing at the end of Road 55 in Charleston County
Length: 3 hours by canoe
Tide: Put in on early falling tide. Tides at Penny Creek are 2 hours behind Charleston Harbor.
Highlights: The small creek widens and empties into the Edisto. There are numerous small creeks to explore. Large rice plantations border the river along this section. Willtown Bluff is the site of one of the earliest settlements in South Carolina.