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Lake Jocassee - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Weekend Trip Report
Trip Dates: July 30-August 3, 2008
Nearest City: Salem, SC
Difficulty: Easy
Submitted by: steav

Description:

Lake Jocassee rates 4 of 5 stars only because of the lower water level that the lake is experiencing - otherwise it would get all 5. Jocassee is running 35' low as a result of the drought, but the water that remains is deep (ca 300') and clear (visibility 20+ feet) and mountain fed cool.

We just spent 5 days canoeing and hiking the lake and had a splendid time. Launching at one of the three ramps at Devil's Fork SP is (I believe) the only option, but from there you can head due north to the "wilderness camping" area... not really wilderness, but privys and 1st come 1st serve sites - 13 of them.

The best (for us) is site 8 which is really 2 sites - the lower one closer to the water is the most private, has the best views, and is a shorter hike to the water. The 30' drop in lake level means that the beach is now huge and there is a fair hike uphill to the sites, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

The water is amazingly clear and though others have said it is cold, that is a relative term. We found it comfy on hot days and refreshing. The well known waterfalls are essentially dried up (like the one pictured on the left), so until the southeast gets some significant rainfall don't anticipate seeing them - but the paddling is still serene and the proliferation of powerboats is limited.

There are a lot of human powered boats and the lack of development along the entire shoreline makes for a quiet, comfortable experience. Additionally, the low water levels make for lots of places along the shore to pull in and relax or swim.

We were there with our two Wenonah Prisms (Prismi?) and two chocolate labs. They absolutely loved the water and rarely came out except for dinnertime! There are a lot of options in terms of where to paddle from this vantage point. The lake (really an impoundment like all Carolina lakes) is fed from several directions and this allows for a lot of excellent gunkholing and exploring. Certainly the scenery is magnificent since you are wedged against the "Blue Wall" which is the start of the Blue Ridge Mts. and the vistas are spectacular!

This is, like all the Carolina lakes, an impoundment created for power production - BUT the extremely low water notwithstanding (down about 35 feet from mean norm) Lake Jocassee gets REFILLED (somewhat) each night when electrical demand lowers - they reverse the pumps! When you wake in the morning the water will be 1 - 2 feet higher than when you went to bed... Move your boats to a high enough ground to compensate!

All in all a fine flatwater trip and worth a repeat in the future.

Accommodations:

Devil's Fork State Park is the sign-in center - they have chalet & villa styled cabins on the east side of the cove, RV and tenting on the west side - wilderness styled camping is from the launch ramps (there are three) due north about 2 miles.
There are 13 "wilderness" sites with pads, firepits and privys on the west side of the cove directly north of the State Park. Low water = a fairly substantial climb to the sites from the water, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger =)

Outfitting:

1999 Wenonah Prism - Kevlar & Gelcoat
2009 Wenonah Prism - Graphite
Eagles Nest Onelink Hammock Systems
MSR cooking gear

Fees:

Fees, yes - you register at the Devil's Fork State Park Office - bear right as you enter the park. Fees for the wilderness area are $5 pp/pd

Directions:

Devil's Fork State Park (Mapquest it!) in the North West corner of South Carolina. Directions would take longer than the trip - but Mapquesting the State Park will get you thru all the twists and turns just fine!

Resources:

The Lake Jocassee topo map is a help
Information on Paddling.net was more than sufficient.


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