The Freshwater Coast

South Carolina has two coasts. The famous one along the Atlantic and a surprising fresh water coast along the Georgia line. You’ll find lots of water to the west and some wonderful state parks. To get there you’ll negotiate 102 miles of backroads and state highways with a pinch of I-26 and US 378 thrown in. The drive will take about two hours and you’ll find that it takes you through some beautiful countryside. Let the journey be part of the destination.

We seldom think of our fresh water coast. It’s there though. The Chattooga, Tugaloo, Lake Hartwell and Clark Hill Lake create an unbroken water wonderland from Modoc to Mountain Rest. The waters run the gamut from whitewater to pools, tributaries, rivulets and impoundments. One major impoundment, Clark Hill, is the third-largest manmade impoundment east of the Mississippi River. It and the surrounding area are today’s destination.

Fishing, swimming and just floating on Clark Hill Lake entertain many a family come summer. Known to South Carolinians as Lake Thurmond, the lake’s traditional name is Clark Hill. Along its Palmetto State shores are several state parks: Calhoun Falls State Park, Hickory Knob, Baker Creek and Hamilton Branch Park. Just across the Georgia line is Elijah Clark State Park.

You’ll find plenty to do. The area offers ample opportunity to view wildlife. Osprey and bald eagles wheel above, and don’t be surprised if you see seagulls too. Apparently they like the fresh water coast as well.

Hickory Knob State Park provides the opportunity to golf along lakeshores. And then there’s the nearby Little River Blueway, which bills itself as “The Wild Side of South Carolina.” Over in McCormick County, Kirk Smith of Outdoor Initiative knows that people like the lake and Blueway for reasons not always obvious. Take mountain biking. The Wall Street Journal highlighted the Little River Blueway Adventure Area’s Forks Area Trail System as one of only two flow trails east of the Mississippi and the only trail in the Southeast. The Blueway offers bikers 156 miles of single track. And if you’d rather, you can tour the Blueway’s 50-mile scenic drive at daybreak.

The Fresh Water Coast is a great place to visit. It has hundreds of beautiful campsites, skeet shooting and numerous historical sites. The Blueway even has a scenic 50-mile drive that takes you through the Heritage Corridor and Scenic Savannah River Highways, country roads and unpaved forest service roads. You’ll cross a few single-lane steel covered bridges along the way, throwbacks to the 1930s. The Scenic Drive will take you by several historical sites, including the Long Cane Massacre Site, Badwell Cemetery, Huguenot Worship Site and the Willington History Center, to name a few.

History, beauty, wildlife, outdoor recreation and more are yours if you head west to South Carolina’s Fresh Water Coast. Escape the other coast’s clamoring crowds and congestion and enjoy serenity in a place where you set the pace.

If You Go …

• South Carolina Parks, Recreation, & Tourism

State Parks 803-734-0156

• Elijah Clark State Park

Lincolnton, Georgia 706-359-3458

Learn more about Tom Poland, a Southern writer, and his work at Email day-trip ideas to him at [email protected]

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