Swamp paddle: Sparkleberry Swamp, SC

Pat said he was free to paddle this week, so I talked with Frank. We had several options to choose from fly fishing, sailing, to river paddle, or swamp paddle. I t’s obivous from the header what we picked. I loaded a 16’ tandem and a 15’ 8" solo on a modified boat trailer and had the boats and gear ready to go when Frank met at my house just after 8. Pat came in from Knoxville the night before.

We were met by a healthy Canebrake Rattlesnake crossing in the middle of Sparkleberry Landing Rd. We stopped for the photo opt, and I encouraged it to exit the road with my paddle. Mostly to keep it out from under my car and make sure it was safely out of harm’s way. We saw several large aquatic turtles out of the water one on the side of the dirt road and two at the landing. The reptiles are active this time of year. It’s the “Time of the Season”.

It has been 4 years since I have last paddled the swamp. I have camped overnight and paddled there at least a dozen times in the past. Frank has been with me on some of the past paddles, but Pat was new to Sparkleberry. The water was high at the landing so dry ground would be very scarce. I missed the opening into the trees I was looking for and went a good way before realizing I must have gone past it. We turned around and finally found it. I didn’t lose our way again but did check the GPS track once in a while to make sure after that. I was pleased to see we remained on track after that. It is a very easy place to become befuddled. Cloudy days can add to that.

The fully leafed Tupelo trees were months past blooming and their honey flow. The Bald Cypress were bald no more. We could hear numerous Prothonotary Warblers calling in the trees as we paddled the waters beneath them, but they were otherwise not very active and hard to spot. That changed after our lunch break sitting in the canoes. I don’t know if it was the insects becoming more active and stimulating feeding as the day climbed out of the 60s into the low 80s or the “Time of the season” was in play. I suspect it was some of both as we saw them chasseing each other and even a fight. They were defiantly feeding. Often within a few yards from the canoe. I however was too slow on the draw to catch a good photo but have lots of photos of foliage where one had just departed.

We spent hours on the water exploring. There was a comfortable breeze, and it was off and on sunny and cloudy during the day. Much of our paddling was in the shade. Biting insects at least weren’t a problem during the daylight hours. Back at the landing as we were loading the canoes when a fellow with an interesting inflatable fishing kayak also landed. I hadn’t seen one like it before. All in all, a day with friends we will remember.

A Sparkleberry Swamp local.

Seeing Double!

Leaving the landing.

Lunch break.

The perennial Osprey nest on Otter Creek

I failed to get a good photo of a Prothonotary Warbler this trip but am adding one taken on the Saluda River several years ago.

Interesting inflatable fishing kayak.


You were missing one friend. We had a very nice morning doing a lazy paddle on Hartwell

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Beautiful place and reptiles, and yes, that’s a healthy Canebrake a nice set of rattles. The turtle picture did make me wonder if someone was getting the “silent” treatment.


Used to go fishing in Sparkleberry 50 years ago. Was kinda like that back then.

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