South Carolina Revolutionary Rivers Trail

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This information is a public record of the 2022 NRT application and may be out of date if it has not been updated by a trail manager --
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South Carolina Revolutionary Rivers Trail

City, Town, or County National Water Trail
  • Length
    60 miles
  • Elevation Gain
  • Route Type
    out & back
 (1 review)

The SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail in Florence County, South Carolina, carries paddlers into 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.

  • An excursion on the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail. Photo by Holly Beaumier
  • An excursion on the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail. Photo by Holly Beaumier
  • girl carrying PFDs
  • event logo design
  • installation of interpretive plaque
  • promotional postcard
  • two promotional banners
  • Branded sign - river mile, landing ahead
  • images of screened platform campsite
  • images of LEED-certified Environmental Discovery building at Lynches River County Park

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Location: 60-mile stretch of Lynches River from Lynches River County Park near Florence, SC, to the confluence with the Great Pee Dee River.

  • States: South Carolina
  • Counties: Florence
  • Cities/Townships: Florence, Effingham, Scranton, Pamplico, Johnsonville

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 of 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.

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Jun 7, 2022
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.

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Allowed Uses:

Boating, motorized Boating, human-powered Swimming

Other Activities

  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Heritage and history
  • Wildlife viewing / observation

Public Contact

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

More Details

  • Elevation (low): --
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  • Part of a Trail System? No
  • National Designations: National Recreation Trail (Revolutionary Rivers)
  • State Designations: Scenic River (Lynches River)
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  • Tread Width (average): 0"
  • Tread Width (minimum): 0
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  • Cross-slope (average, percent): 0
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  • Certified as an NRT
    Jun 2, 2022
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