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Whitewater in Great Falls, SC

Just a short 20 minute drive from the city of Chester, and also located in Chester County, is the town of Great Falls, South Carolina. A 16 year project in the making, recreational whitewater will finally be available in the next few months. We have partnered with Great Falls Home Town Association and Executive Director, Glinda Coleman, to give an update on the progress of the project and projected completion date. Check it out!

Drone shot of long channel safe boater passage
Drone shot of long channel safe boater passage

The Whitewater Area – The Long Bypass

The construction at the whitewater area in Great Falls that will allow people a safe access to the glorious whitewater that is part of the Great Falls of the Catawba is 99% complete and will open to the public sometime in March 2023.. It really is exciting to see what Duke Energy is doing at the site and it will create a unique recreation opportunity for this area. Currently, however, it is NOT open to the public.

Nitrolee Access Area, located just off U.S. 21 near the Fishing Creek Dam will be the entry pointfor kayaks to enter the reservoir leading to the whitewater.

Kayakers will paddle down Fishing Creek to the Great Falls Reservoir and over to the safe boater access point. The structure was designed by S2O’s Scott Shipley who was the designer of the Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

A natural “finger” of rock will help guide boaters into the access point where they will enter a still pool (about 4 feet deep) to prepare to travel through the boater bypass channel and into the whitewater. Along this 1000 foot “ramp” are bypass structures that allow the boaters to traverse down the “ramp” from the top of the dam to the bottom, which is some 25 feet. There are also deflectors that help to slow the water down for a safer passage. Along this passage are areas that if the paddler turns over, or has second thoughts about entering the whitewater or any other reason, they can get out and walk back to the top. There are steps at these areas with a walkway along the top of the structure. Duke is taking great care to assure safety in reaching the whitewater area.

At the bottom of the “ramp” there is a small waterfall area that will take boaters into the whitewater. Just below that is a portage trail (which is actually a cement structure) that will allow people back to the top where the entry pool is, and it gives boaters a way back to the Great Falls Reservoir where they can paddle back to the access area.

Recreation flows will be just under 3000 cubic feet per second (cfs). These flows will be released between March 1 and October 31 each year, two Saturdays per month and a total of four Sundays, in the long channel. The schedule for these flows will be set in February 2023.

The long channel is expected to have Class 2 and 3 rapids when the recreation flows are released. At those levels, this whitewater isn’t for the novice. This channel is going to have some pretty rough whitewater and experience is necessary for navigating it safely.

By Glinda Price Coleman

Executive Director

Great Falls Home Town Association

Want to know more about Great Falls and whitewater? Make sure to subscribe to the Great Falls Home Town Association website http://visitgreatfallssc.com

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