Flat Shoal River, South Carolina, US
1: Hwy 11 to Flat Shoals Bridge
||I-III(IV) (for normal flows)
The Falls at Flat Shoal River
The Falls at Flat Shoal RiverPhoto of Chris Kelly by Will Reeves taken 06/30/03 @ 1.71 ft
Flat Shoal starts off with quite a bang. The put in is a submerged old roadbed that forms a nice
hydraulic and possible play spot at most flows. There are a few small play holes about twenty
meters downstream and then the river goes under an iron bridge and plunges over Flat Shoal Falls.
The first drop is a nearly vertical ten-foot ledge. Be careful when running any of the ledges
because there are up thrust rocks at the base of most drops. There is no doubt that from this point
to the edge of downstream view the river is dropping at an incredible gradient. Next three rapids
are a quick succession of nearly vertical slides and ledges. Some of these drops have alternate
lines and pining rocks so be careful and scout often. Trees also get stuck in the rapid after
floods. The river makes a sharp turn after the falls and appears to calm down. Don't be fooled
because another potentially dangerous rapid can creep up after the next island. Flat Shoals then
slides over some additional rapids before flattening out for about a mile. The river picks up
briefly immediately above the Little River Lane access point on river right. Contrary to the
topographic maps there are no bridges between the falls and Flat Shoals Bridge at the takeout.
After Little River Lane the river flows over several small ledges before plunging over a big 20 to
30 sliding waterfall. Flat Shoal then picks up gradient again and produces a few more class II
rapids before flowing over the sliding drop at the takeout.
In order to clarify the lines the following comments were given in a recent email by Will
So here are my takes on the steepest section of falls on Flat Shoal - 1.
As a disclaimer I am an open boater and only assume my lines work for kayakers.
The first drop is immediately past the steel bridge. It has some concrete additions that make the
drop almost even across the top on the right. I have not scouted the drop at low flow to determine
if any rebar remains from the old dam.
At really high flows I would suggest running off the left side of the drop with a left angle in
order to catch the big left eddy. (That was the line on Tuesday evening in the flood). Catching the
eddy prevents you from being stuck in the speed trap hole, which forms about 10 feet from the base
of the drop. If you miss the eddy you will be swept over the remainder of the falls on the left.
This is not fatal or anything but could be unpleasant if you get stuck in any of the holes or piton
into the rocks.
At normal flows I would suggest taking the main tongue down the left side of the drop with a slight
left angle to catch the eddy. The eddy is not essential at the level you would have seen the run
The second big drop is extremely chaotic at high flows. On Tuesday afternoon we just looked at that
drop and opted not to run it.
At an average flow like the one you saw yesterday the far right side of the second drop is a smooth
slide. The left side is also a slide but the rocky ledges might cause problems for some boat
The third drop has several lines, but in my view only one is really optimal.
The optimal line is to slide down the right side of the slide. That line is a simple slide.
The far left has a nasty slot followed by a short slide. This is on the left side of the river up
against the bank. If you are on line it is fine but you can get pinched by the rocks in the slot. I
imagine these could shred a shirt off a kayak. You could also end up on the upstream side of the
undercut in the middle of the river if your not careful.
The middle line over the slide looks obvious but the big pillowing hole/wave at the base of the
drop is really an undercut rock. I would avoid that line but my friend Kevin Miller ran it
The last drop of the falls is easy. Just don't go down the left side aiming left and you are
At high water there is a hole.
I don't know if you continued downstream but the rapid around the corner has a huge but obvious
undercut rock. I would suggest you run the left side of the river off the launch pad.
There is also an alternate takeout on Little River Lane, which is a small dirt road off Horseshoe
Rd on your way to Flat Shoals Rd. I don't mind paddling all the way to Flat Shoals Rd because there
are some additional big sliding waterfalls interspersed on the remainder of the river.
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Last Updated: 2006-10-29 14:06:48