South Carolina

South Carolina Revolutionary Rivers Trail

The SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail in Florence County, South Carolina, carries paddlers into the the cypress and tupelo laden swampland that Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion used as a hideout when fighting the British. Here, he was given the nickname 'Swamp Fox' for his ability to disappear into the swamps.

photo: An excursion on the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail

Length: 60.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: National Water Trails System
Agency: City, Town, or County
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Boating, Motorized
Boating, non-motorized: Canoeing
Boating, non-motorized: Kayaking
Camping
Fishing
Heritage and History
Swimming
Wildlife Observation

See more details.

 

Location: 60-mile stretch of Lynches River from Lynches River County Park near Florence, SC, to the confluence with the Great Pee Dee River.
State(s): South Carolina
Counties: Florence
Longitude: -79.75424136
Latitude: 34.05149270

Driving Directions

From the City of Florence, travel south on Highway 52 (6.7 miles past South Florence High School) and turn right on Old Hwy. No. 6. Drive 1.8 miles to the entrance of Lynches River County Park on the right.

Description

The SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail leads paddlers into the cypress and tupelo swampland that served as the main encampment for Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion. It was on Snow Island that Marion and his men hid from the British, attacking them when least expected, using guerrilla warfare tactics Marion had learned from the Native Americans during the French and Indian War. Riding on Marsh Tacky horses, Marion and his men could traverse the swamps where the Loyalists on horseback dared not. It was for this reason the exasperated Loyalist Gen. Banastre Tarleton stated, “But as for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him,” giving Francis Marion the nom de guerre ‘Swamp Fox.’

Odell Venters Landing on the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail is at the site of Witherspoon’s Ferry, where Francis Marion took command of the Williamsburgh militia. This brigade was the only fighting force in SC, as the remaining military commanders had been captured in Charleston. The landing features a statue of Francis Marion by a renowned sculptor and interpretive panels regarding the site’s history. The City of Johnsonville received $450,000 in funding to upgrade the boat ramp and install a floating dock in 2018. The landing is often used for community events. Each year, Johnsonville holds Heritage Day, inviting reenactors, artisans, and speakers to join in the activities. Traditional recipes such as pine bark stew are cooked over an open fire. Friends of Revolutionary Rivers also holds its annual Shad Roe-deo at the landing, raising funds to build screened platform campsites.

The Lynches River County Park handicapped accessible landing was built in 2003. The upper-most trailhead of the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail is nestled between the park’s Environmental Discovery Center (EDC), community building, cabins, and campsites. The EDC is a LEED-certified building constructed in 2008 with the purpose of meshing nature with technology. Youth are encouraged to take the swinging boardwalk through the forest canopy to record bird calls and to research the birds in the EDC. Field trips study the difference in weather conditions between the tree canopy and the parking lot while summer camps focus on aquatic life and water quality. A full-size canoe gives children the opportunity to practice putting on PFDs and sitting in the boat hull before parents rent a boat for the day. The EDC also offers Wild Weekends activities, introducing youth to park animals. The trails and boardwalks at Lynches River County Park are used for 5K races and biathlon adventure races (running and kayaking). Major events at the park are the River Jamboree and Wildlife Winterfest, each drawing in 3-4,000 children. As county park activities are free, there is a wide diversity in demographics attending the educational sessions.

Paddlers can follow 60 miles of the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail from Lynches River County Park to the Snow Island region. This island is adjacent to a 50,000-acre conservation corridor, and the creation of an additional Wildlife Management Area of 2,530 acres is in process. The aquatic systems are an ecological hotspot, harboring rare freshwater mussels and snails, and five of SC’s diadromous species, including the Federally Endangered Shortnose and Atlantic Sturgeons. The diversity of habitat is likely to support 143 Species of Greatest Conservation Need for the Southeast, including the Wood Stork and Swallow-tailed Kite.

The water trail was the result of a tourism development plan by the SC National Heritage Corridor. In 2014, the words ‘Revolutionary River’ were trademarked, and the trail was designated a National Recreation Trail (NRT). An image of the screened platform campsite won an NRT photo contest in 2019.

As a project receiving support from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program, community leaders and stakeholders were brought together to form a non-profit organization: Friends of Revolutionary Rivers (FoRevR). This organization has worked with Florence County and private foundations to clear the river of fallen trees, a monumental effort which the County has committed to upkeep for the sake of EMS navigability on the waterway. FoRevR also held educational sessions on the historical aspects of the trail, and built the aforementioned platform campsite accessible only by water, following best practices of Sound Rivers in North Carolina, using their construction diagrams and hiring a professional contractor. The goal is to build a screened platform every 10 miles to encourage multi-day excursions. FORevR also recently received funding from the Florence Rotary Club to purchase inclusive equipment for paddlers with disabilities.

SC Revolutionary Trails also ties into a new RTCA project in progress. The County is developing a master trails plan which includes blueways as well as greenways. The trails system has been named Swamp Fox Trails, or SWFT (pronounced swift), and a non-profit organization has been created to apply for funds the County is not eligible to receive.

With the new pandemic era upon us, there has been significant interest in outdoor activities. There has been an estimated annual $720,000 economic impact from guided paddling excursions. Paddling is healthy for the body and mind, and it’s appropriate as a family activity.

Approximately $275,000 in paid advertising has been placed to promote the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail. Billboards in major cities (Atlanta, Raleigh, Charlotte, and others), retargeting ads on digital platforms, search engine optimization and monetization techniques, and print advertising in the SC Vacation Guide have all brought awareness and attention to the water trail. Waterproof maps have been printed and distributed, and brochures regarding beginner and experienced paddler excursions have been placed at the state welcome centers on major interstates.

In addition to interpretive panels covering the history and ecology of the trail, mile markers have been placed along the trail, upcoming landing signs have been installed, and caution signs have been mounted in places needing particular attention. In areas where the trail is not obvious, wayfinding signs have been mounted to trees.

SC Parks Recreation and Tourism arranged for a video hosted by Field & Stream editor Eddie Nickens that highlights the Revolutionary River, and the FoRevR group recorded a 30-minute educational video outlining safety measures, boating etiquette, and sites along the trail.

The Florence CVB has uploaded a podcast series of historical stories and legends regarding Francis Marion. This podcast accompanies drivers following the Francis Marion Trail Commission’s self-guided tours. Five sites on the water trail are featured.

The support for SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail is strong and widespread. As an idea is brought forth for enhancing the trail, increasing awareness, or developing educational programs, partner organizations or committee volunteers go into action. The community is proud of this natural treasure and is ready to promote it more widely.




Additional Details

Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: None
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:
2022

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Brochure: event flyer
Brochure: moonlight paddling excursion
Brochure: waterproof map with stewardship info on reverse
Brochure: SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail brochure lists paddling guide services on this side.
Brochure: This side of the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail brochure lists recommended excursions and levels of difficulty.
Brochure: Flyer for fundraising excursion
Brochure: Lynches Scenic River Water Trail Guide outlines boat safety, laws, river etiquette and ethics.
Brochure: The reverse side of the waterproof map of boat landings covers stewardship and safety points.
Brochure: Francis Marion Trail Commission's driving tour in river trail region
Brochure: information regarding the Duke Foundation grant to clear the river
Brochure: Guide for training paddling guides
Brochure: SCDNR scenic river guide available online
Brochure: SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail brochure
Brochure: management plan for Lynches Scenic River
Brochure: water trail plan
Brochure: renderings of expansion at Lynches River County Park
Brochure: Lynches Scenic River management plan
Brochure: news-grant-clearing
Brochure: wood duck boxes made by eagle scout
Map: PDF map of SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail
Map: River Forks tract is in the process of becoming WMA, adding to the areas under protection.
Map: map of FMTC driving trail, pic of podcast, interpretive panels
Map: waterproof map
Map: Web app allows hikers and paddlers to annotate locations
Map: snow island map and tour
Map: conservation and vegetation map
Other: FoRevR non-profit certificate
Other: race and biathlon at Lynches River County Park
Other: News coverage of event held at Odell Venters Landing
Other: News article regarding boat ramp upgrade and fundraising excursion
Other: Shad Roe-deo media coverage, photos of artisans, shad net, and event program
Other: Heritage Day at Odell Venters Landing - media coverage, image of Francis Marion Statue, images of event activities
Other: 36x24" interpretive panels installed by SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail
Other: 36x24" interpretive panels installed by Francis Marion Trail Commission
Other: Lynches River County Park - interpretive panels, canoe in Environmental Discovery Center, activities with children, list of annual activities.
Other: The Swamp Fox Trails logo denoting the county trail system incorporates the historical theme of the Swamp Fox.
Other: proposed WMA along the water trail
Other: sample invitation and notes from initial friends meeting (FoRevR)
Other: Initial Lynches River Management Plan (Scenic River Management)
Other: press release inviting public to become involved
Other: List of supporters and method of support
Other: 2022 community engagement strategy and calendar
Other: details regarding Duke Energy grant to clear river
Other: post regarding cleanup day at the river
Other: social media update on river clearing
Other: social media posts encouraging community engagement
Other: link to 30-minute educational video by FoRevR
Other: link to SCPRT video "Discover SC's Revolutionary Rivers"
Other: interpretive signs placed by SC Revolutionary Rivers
Other: platform campsite listing on tripadvisor, notice of booking
Other: google search results
Other: forevr.us website screenshot
Other: example of media coverage
Other: news article regarding improvements to Venters Landing
Other: master trails work plan with RTCA
Other: annual adopt-a-river
Other: request for grant funds for inclusivity equipment
Other: press release - SC National Heritage Corridor project
Other: FoRevR social media page
Other: article in SC Vacation Guide
Other: trademark approval
Other: RTCA work plan
Other: news article - Venters Landing
Website: SC Revolutionary Rivers

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Holly Beaumier
Director
Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau
3290 West Radio Drive
Florence, SC 29501
(800) 325-9005
[email protected]

Public Contact:
Holly Beaumier
Executive Director
Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau
3290 W. Radio Dr.
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 664-0330
[email protected]

Trail Management:
Barry Frick
chairman
Friends of Revolutionary Rivers (FoRevR)
2740 Indigo Landing Road
Scranton, SC 29591
(843) 389-4656
[email protected]

Trail Management:
Nathan Dawsey
Recreation Superintendent
Florence County
710 S. Irby St.
Florence, SC 29501
(843) 667-0950
[email protected]

 

Photos

Towering cypress along Lynches River

Towering cypress along Lynches River

Upper portion of SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail

Upper portion of SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail

 

 

Platform campsite built by the Friends of Revolutionary Rivers. Photo by Christopher Neal.

Platform campsite built by the Friends of Revolutionary Rivers. Photo by Christopher Neal.

Reviews

Rev Rivers Trail (kayaking/canoeing)

This is a great kayaking experience! There are lots of convenient landings to give you options. It's a float downstream trip which I broke up into several segments. There is great beauty along this trail with much of it pristine swamplands exactly like the "Swamp Fox" (Francis Marion) would have seen it during Revolutionary times. You're going to see cypress forests, beautiful wildlife (including Herons) and quiet back country. If you're going alone, contact "River Rats" to help you shuttle. The last twenty miles are the most beautiful.

June 7, 2022

 

 

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