Saluda River Rally to feature state’s first ADA floating launch

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The 3rd Annual Saluda River Rally will take place June 2-3. Beginning at the Dolly Cooper Sports Complex in Powdersville, the event will feature the first public ADA accessible floating kayak launch in the State of South Carolina. Hosted by Anderson County and sponsored by Grady’s Great Outdoors, the 2012 rally marks a monumental step in the 48-mile corridor development with the implementation of the County’s first dedicated kayak launch.

The 48-mile corridor is bounded by the Saluda Lake Dam and the Town of Ware Shoals Dam. Phase One is defined as the 9-mile stretch between the Dolly Cooper Sports Complex in Powdersville to the Town of Piedmont.

“The Saluda River is a valuable component of the Dolly Cooper Sports Complex, as well as the County’s long term recreational goals,” said Anderson County Councilman Ken Waters. “The Saluda River is one of Anderson County’s hidden treasures and I am pleased to be a part of all the exciting developments that have taken place during the time I have served as Councilman for District 6. The Parks department has an incredible vision for the Saluda River, with the Dolly Cooper Sports Complex as the first of many stops to enhance the Upstate Blue Trail. I want to personally invite everyone to come out to District 6 and take advantage of one of the many recreational opportunities in our County.”

“The ADA accessible launch at Dolly Cooper Park has been the heart of Saluda River development and I am thrilled to see it become a reality,” said Anderson County Parks Manager Matt Schell.

“Three years ago Sharon Nicometo and I had an idea for a River Rally that would promote water sports and healthy, family-friendly activities on the Saluda. Since that time, we have witnessed first-hand, the Saluda River Rally grow from its humble beginnings into an annual tradition on the river with a growing group of excited water-sports enthusiasts in kayaks, canoes and our latest addition, tubes,” Shell said.

River access during 2010 was limited to sliding and/or climbing the banks of the Saluda inside Dolly Cooper Sports Complex or the SC Kayak Fishing Club property.

By 2011, river access had slight improvement with a simple set of stairs at both sites to facilitate access, although they were not ADA accessible.

In 2012, with the generous assistance of the Legislative Delegation and SC DNR funds, Anderson County will feature a floating ADA accessible kayak launch at Dolly Cooper Sports Complex that will accommodate users with varying levels of ability, according to Shell.

Councilman Waters continued, “We all know someone that has limited mobility and would enjoy a scenic paddling opportunity in the Upstate. This ADA Compliant access will attract visitors from more than 50 miles, enhancing our reputation as an outdoor and water-sport destination and helping us maintain our position as a front-runner in working toward ADA Compliance.”

“The event is free for the public to participate, however donations will be accepted to benefit the Special Olympics,” said Sharon Nicometo with Anderson County Parks Department. “Rally-goers from ages 7 to 70 have participated in recent years, as well as youth and adults with varying degrees of paralysis. The reward in this blue trail development comes from witnessing the experiences and successes of beginner, as well as novice paddlers on this stretch of the Saluda River.”

Saturday’s festivities will take place from 9 am until 5 pm and will feature a 2.5-mile revolving paddle trip from a private access in Pickens County. Rally-goers will enjoy bluegrass music, local outdoor/recreation-based businesses, shuttle service, and food vendors.

Sunday’s event will begin at 1 pm at the Dolly Cooper Sports Complex and will feature a single 9-mile paddle from Powdersville to the Town of Piedmont, with shuttle service back to Powdersville. Rally Wrap-up will take place at the Saluda River Grill, complete with BBQ and bluegrass.

Rally sponsors include Grady’s Great Outdoors, Johnson Outdoors, South Carolina Kayak Fishing Club, Saluda River Rafting, Saluda River Grill, Special Olympics Area 14, Life Journey Church, Siloam Baptist Church, and Werner Paddles all have donated either, kayaks, paddles, river tubes, river access, buses, volunteers and or BBQ dinner.

2012 River Rally partners include Cemex and Century Concrete, who generously donated more than 200 tons of reclaimed concrete material to help improve road access leading through the park for this year’s event.

For more information, contact Matt Schell (mschell@andersoncountysc.org) or Sharon Nicometo (snicometo@andersoncountysc.org) or call 864.231.PARK.