A 54-mile stretch of Lynches River (www.dnr.sc.gov ) was named an official Scenic River in 1994. This heavily forested, virtually pristine section of the blackwater river, which was named for Declaration of Independence signer Thomas Lynch, looks like something out of a movie and has stories to match.
It was once the hiding ground for escaped slaves, and the state’s last duel took place on its banks. While Hurricane Hugo felled many trees, making navigation difficult, they are gradually being cleared.
There are two great ways to enjoy the Lynches: Lee State Natural Area (487 Loop Rd., 803/428-5307, www.southcarolinaparks.com , daily 9 a.m.–9 p.m., free), a Civilian Conservation Corps–era state park conveniently right off I-20 at exit 123, and Lynches River County Park (1110 Ben Gause Rd., 843/389-2785, www.florenceco.org , daily dawn–dusk, free), further downstream near Florence .
You can put in a canoe or kayak at either site, or go even further upstream at the public landing off U.S. 15, which marks the beginning of the scenic designation. Canoe and kayak rental is available at Lynches River County Park for about $30 a day. Call for rental information (843/667-0920). In addition, both sites offer hiking trails. You can camp at Lee State Natural Area, which has 25 sites with electricity and water ($12–13).
Lots of folks fish for sunfish, catfish, and bass on the Lynches, but you do need a valid state fishing license (www.dnr.sc.gov ). Lee State Natural Area has an artesian spring-fed lake stocked with catfish.