South Carolina: Pacolet River

Pacolet River
Location: The Pacolet River runs through northwestern South Carolina near the towns of Spartanburg and Lockhart.
How to access: There are several access points to the river, and the river flows close to major roads and highways that make it highly accessible. The first access point is located on River Street in Clifton, but many paddlers prefer to put in about a half mile further downstream at Clifton Park.
Difficulty: The Pacolet has both slow-moving water and whitewater, making it a good location for paddlers interested in a range of difficulty. The 3.5-mile whitewater section begins in Clifton and is Class I to II, with some small play waves along the way.
Fun Facts: Near Lawson’s Fork, a stone marked with the date 1567 is believed to have been left by Spanish explorer Captain Juan Pardo’s expedition. This expedition was one of the first encounters between European settlers and Native Americans in the Pacolet area. The stone now resides in the Spartanburg Regional History Museum.
Local Champion: Upstate Forever is a Greenville-based nonprofit organization committed to protecting the land and waterways of upstate South Carolina, including the Pacolet River. The Clean Water team at Upstate Forever partners with utility providers, municipalities and landowners to preserve critical watershed lands and promote best practices for clean water.
More info: Upstate Forever has developed a series of free waterproof blueway maps that highlight river access locations, recommended skill levels, river rapids, recommended flow levels and other useful information. Visit to access these maps. — Sam Kepple


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