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Sparkleberry Swamp info?

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I'm spending the winter planning trips, I'm thinking I can get more days out if I head South and I'm very curious about Sparkleberry Swamp...

Is it big enough / diverse enough to do a 7-10 day loop? Can you camp in it? (if so... Dispersed, minimum impact or designated sites?), are tents advisable or are hammocks more entertaining for the gators?

Finally, (the holy grail?) are maps available? I've heard there are none and I've heard that only hand drawn ones exist (possibly drawn by Lucius Clay and buried in mason jars?). I know some on here have been there but there are not a lot of details...
 
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Yep me to. I was conversing with Will Derness about Sparkleberry. It's only a 5 hour drive for me to get there. I've never been in a swamp. I may go there toward the end of March when my wife is on spring break. She's interested also.
 
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Haven't been, but used to live nearby. I've never heard of anyone tripping there, and I think it is too small to support a 7-10 day loop by a long shot. No amenities that I've ever heard of either. I would try messaging the Palmetto Paddlers on their Meetup page (https://www.meetup.com/PalmettoPaddlersSC/) or their facebook page for first hand info. PaddleSC may also have info. Personally, I'd look at one of several Blue Trails in SC as an alternative, particularly the Waccamaw, which actually starts in NC. http://www.bluetrailsguide.org/
 
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Clemency: Thanks. It doesn't look like it would be big enough to do the kind of loop I was hoping for but looks like I could spend 3-5 days there by launching out of Columbia, going down the Congaree and then up Cedar Creek. If I can get more specifics, I'll post them here.

Roybrew: Maps appear to be available from Congaree National Park for about $10. I've sent an email attempting to verify... I'll let you know.
 
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Thank you. I asked the woman if she wanted to go. She's interested, but we'll be doing some day paddling. Camp at a camp ground a couple of nights. I'd would love to do a 3 or 4 day loop, but she's not into that. Sounds like fun.
Thanks for information Gamma 1214.
 
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I have paddled
Sparkleberry about two years ago. Not really campable as a lot is wet or private (posted) dry land. Good stste park nearby to do day trip. No good maps, other than the topo and downloading google earth photos. Bring a gps. Water levels can vary greatly. Saw some big gators.
 
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I have paddled
Sparkleberry about two years ago. Not really campable as a lot is wet or private (posted) dry land. Good stste park nearby to do day trip. No good maps, other than the topo and downloading google earth photos. Bring a gps. Water levels can vary greatly. Saw some big gators.
Its been longer than that for me. IIRC ( and I probably don't) are there some painted blazes on trees for a sort of a paddling trail?
 
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The locals have put up some driveway reflector disks on some of the trees to mark channels and passages. Not sure I would call it a trail.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I have paddled Sparkleberry several times on day trips. I have a two hour video of one of my trips (unedited and unpublished, unfortunately) and many photos, several posted on this site—e.g., in my OP in this thread. I also have the only professional map ever drawn of the swamp, by a father and son duo of admiralty lawyers in Charleston 30 or 40 years ago, whom I have spoken to. In addition, I have satellite photos downloaded into my Garmin GPS.

The swamp itself has very little solid ground, especially in high water, but the swamp is big enough and has enough high ground to support a three day, two night trip. I'd love to do that. I know one site that has suitable high ground for tenting, which is clearly a site used by fishermen, and the lawyer son has told me where others are in parts of the swamp I have never paddled. ("Look for clumps of tall pine trees.")

However, you don't need tents to sleep overnight in Sparkleberry. There are many stilt shacks that have been built by hunters and fisherman in secret locations throughout the swamp. These shacks have rustic furniture, beds and even stocked kitchens. The state allowed a certain number of people to build these shacks on condition that they could be used by any member of the public on a first-to-arrive basis, sort of like the leantos in the Adirondacks. I've discovered a couple and have gone in them. None were ever occupied. Here is a picture of one.

sparkleberry-swamp8-jpg.127033


In my older GPS, I had waypointed many of the "streams", "lakes", junctions and stilt shacks, but unfortunately I lost all the waypoints when switching to my newer GPS. However, my memory of most things is still intact. I think I can even see some of the shacks on my sat photos.

Now, if I could only find that map and my GPS. They are in my cathedral of entropy somewhere. A CTN group trip into Sparkleberry with tents or to the shacks would be fun.
 
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Gator!? Whew boy. Gator hide canoe seats, that would look pretty. I'm stoked and ready to go. Loved the pictures Glenn. Thank you.
 
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Clemency: Thanks. It doesn't look like it would be big enough to do the kind of loop I was hoping for but looks like I could spend 3-5 days there by launching out of Columbia, going down the Congaree and then up Cedar Creek. If I can get more specifics, I'll post them here.
I'm catching up on this thread after doing a little research on Sparkleberry for an overnighter I am planning in the Fall. I just wanted to add to this trip plan: I 100% recommend checking out Cedar Creek. It is kind of hard to locate and enter from the Congaree, but it does have two landings, one of them within Congaree Park. If it were me, I would plan the start of the trip on the Cedar Creek trail. The Congaree is easy paddling and has nice, mellow waters, especially if you want to get in to cool off on one of its many beaches. However, the scenery isn't anything noteworthy, especially compared to Cedar Creek, which is a whole 'nother world and feels downright Jurassic. The lower stretches of that trail are largely unmaintained, so expect several portages (some of them grueling, often up steep embankments or over giant fallen trees, especially when the water is low, as it is wont to be in the Winter).

Anywho, I would love to see a follow-up if you ever make it down to Sparkleberry. I've done short day trips there, and it's definitely a spectacle.
 
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