Lake Murray sailboats

Lake Murray | photo courtesy Capital City Lake Murray Country

At the Lake

Created by the hydroelectric Dreher Shoals Dam, the 50,000-acre Lake Murray is a paradise for outdoor lovers. It boasts 500 miles of shoreline and several drop-in sites for boating, fishing (Lake Murray is a top destination for striped and largemouth bass), swimming and camping, making it one of the most popular recreation sites in the state. The lake hosts major fishing tournaments throughout the year, and several sailing clubs operate on the lake.

One of the area’s most popular walking paths is directly across the top of the dam along S.C. 6; the 1.7-mile path is popular for walking and jogging, and the walkway offers spectacular views of Lake Murray and, on clear days, the downtown Columbia skyline. Bomb Island is also a popular tourist attraction; there, purple martins fill the sky at twilight during the summer.

Lake Murray’s annual Fourth of July celebration features a parade of boats decked out with flags, balloons and patriotic ornaments. An island fireworks display follows in the evening, drawing a swarm of visitors by land and lake.

Home tours are often available for those who want to view some of the lavish dwellings that line the shore, all with an assortment of quaint docks and slips with every type of boat imaginable.

Camping is available at many sites around the lake, including Dreher Island State Park near Chapin.

The regional tourism promotion organization Capital City Lake Murray links to cruises, tours, fishing guides and more; visit lakemurraycountry.com for more information.

Recreation Areas

Bundrick Island: Brady Porth Rd., Lake Murray. scgreatoutdoors.com/park-bundrickisland.html. Bundrick Island isn’t actually an island; it’s a peninsula. Still, this 90-acre site on the south shore is a popular place for boaters to take a break and have a picnic, and it has several dirt roads and hiking trails, plus a sandy beach. Accessible only by boat or bike.

Dreher Island State Park: 3677 State Park Rd., Prosperity. 803-364-4152, southcarolinaparks.com/dreher-island. Accessed from the north side of Lake Murray, near Chapin, Dreher Island State Park comprises three islands and 12 miles of shoreline. Especially popular for fishing and boating, Dreher Island also offers lakefront camping, cabin and villa rentals, water skiing and picnicking.

Hilton Recreation Area: 1 Cove Launch Ct., Chapin. lakemurrayfun.com/ramps.shtml. Concrete boat ramp, shoreline and pier fishing, public restrooms, picnic facilities, swimming.

Sunset Recreation Area: Boat Camp Rd., Prosperity. lake-murray.com/sunset-recreation-area-boat-ramp/. One lane boat ramp, courtesy dock, fishing pier, gravel parking.

Sailing Clubs, Marinas & Rentals

AquaFun Boat Rentals Tours and Watersports: 220 Jakes Landing Rd., Lexington, 803-413-1693, aquafunboatrentalsandtours

lakemurraysc.com. Rents pontoon boats, jet skis, kayaks and paddle boards. Also offers lake tours and fishing guide services.

Columbia Sailing Club: 292 Shuler Rd., Columbia. columbiasailingclub.org. Facilities include a well-protected marina, four launching ramps and other sailing-related amenities. The marina has 100 berths for sailboats from 22 to 33 feet in length. Land parking slips accommodate an additional 100 boats. Activities include sailboat races, regattas, race management training and youth sail camps.

Hollow Creek Marina: 3340 U.S. 378, Leesville, 803-730-3044, facebook.com/hollowcreekmarina. Boutique marina with minimal slip traffic. Inquire about availability.

Johnny’s Jon Boat Rental: 803-979-7763, jonboatrental.webs.com. Boat comes fully equipped with everything you need to fish for anything from bream to bass to catfish to stripers.

Lake Murray Boat Rentals: 960 Rock-N-Creek Rd., Leesville, 803-462-5292. lakemurrayboatrentals.com. Offers a selection of full-size pontoon boats and fishing boats.

Lake Murray Marina at Marina Bay: 1602 Marina Rd., Irmo. 803-781-1585, lakemurraymarinasc.com. Offers boat slips and services, including dry stack uncovered and covered wet slips with daily and overnight rates, as well as boat rentals at Better Boat Rental and boat club memberships at Lake Murray Boat Club. Provides a ship store and gas.

Lake Murray Sailing Club: 235 Old Forge Rd., Chapin. lmsc.org. Promotes sailing through an active racing schedule, cruising events, and instructional programs for men, women, teens, and kids.

Lanier Sailing Academy: 3072 U.S. 378, Batesburg-Leesville, 803-317-9070, laniersail.com. Offers sailing courses and operates a sailing club. Basic keelboat classes include 20 hours of on-the-water instruction.

Lighthouse Marina: 1925 Johnson’s Marina Rd., Chapin, 803-749-1554, lighthousemarinasc.com. Full-service marina with public boat ramp, dry storage, west slips, gas station and bathhouse.

Riverwinds Landing: 221 S.C. 391, Prosperity, 803-364-0036, riverwindslanding.net. Full-service marina on the upper Saluda River section of the lake near Prosperity. Offers cabin rentals.

Siesta Cove Marina & RV Park: 256 Long John Rd., Lexington. 803-892-2978, siestacovemarina.com. Full-service marina and campground offering boat storage, camping, fishing supplies and more.

Southshore Marina: 3072 U.S. 378, Batesburg-Leesville, 803-532-4231, southshoresc.com. Docking, storage, fuel, boat rentals, store with beer, snacks and marine supplies.

Spirit of Lake Murray: spiritoflakemurray.com. Cruise yacht available for private functions and public cruises. Docks at the Hollow Creek Marina.

Boat Ramps & Landings

Dreher Island State Park: 3677 State Park Rd., Prosperity. Three boat ramps, one two-lane tournament ramp, courtesy dock, paved parking.

Crayne’s Landing: 26 Crayne’s Loop, Little Mountain. 803-271-2577. Boat ramp, fishing pier, mini-mart with bait and tackle. Paddleboat, kayak and jon boat rentals.

Higgins Bridge: 655 Old Higgins Ferry Rd., Silverstreet. lakemurrayfun.com/ramps.shtml. One-lane concrete boat ramp with lake access, limited gravel parking.

Hilton Recreation Area Ramp: 1 Cove Launch Ct., Chapin. Concrete boat ramp, shoreline fishing, pier fishing, restrooms, picnic facilities, swimming.

Hope Ferry Road Boat Landing: 1047-1099 Hope Ferry Rd., lexington. lcrac.com. Directly across from Saluda Shoals Park. Boat ramp, fishing, picnic tables.

Jakes Landing: 220 Jakes Landing Rd., Lexington, 803-359-9268, jakeslanding.com. A popular site for boat storage and slip rentals that sits just south of the dam, Jakes Landing also provides launching sites, gas, marine supplies and food.

Lake Murray Dam: 2170 N. Lake Dr., Columbia. Fishing pier, boat launch ramp, courtesy dock, paved parking, restrooms.

Larry Koon Landing Ramp: 1523 Shull Ave., Gilbert. Concrete boat ramps, shoreline fishing, pier fishing, restrooms, picnic facilities.

Public Launch Ramp: 1432 Shull Island Rd., Gilbert. Boat launch ramp, limited parking.

Rocky Point Landing: 411 Rocky Ramp Dr., Chapin. Concrete boat ramp, picnic facilities.

SCE&G Public Landing: Shull Landing. Concrete boat ramp.

SCE&G Public Landing: Buffalo Creek, Prosperity. Concrete boat ramps, shoreline fishing, pier fishing, swimming.

SCE&G Public Ramp, Lake Murray Estates: 394 Ruby Riser Rd., Batesburg-Leesville. Concrete boat ramp, shoreline fishing pier fishing.

SCE&G No. 3, Lake Murray Shores: 1 Robbins St., Batesburg-Leesville. One-lane boat ramp, courtesy dock, restrooms, picnic area, parking for 50 vehicles and trailers.

SCE&G No. 4: 734 Riverbend Pt., Batesburg-Leesville. Concrete boat ramp, shoreline fishing pier fishing, restrooms, picnic facilities, swimming.

River Outfitters, Guides & Access

Adventure Carolina: 1107 State St., Cayce, 803-447-3327. Rents and sells boats and gear, and leads paddling trips on the rivers.

Carolina Outdoor Adventures: 803-381-2293, carolinaoutdooradventures.com. Irmo-based guide offers guided kayak trips on the Congaree, Lake Murray and others, including geocaching excursions and a Rocky Shoals Spider Lily paddle during lily season.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources: dnr.sc.gov. Check agency website for essential information on hunting and fishing in South Carolina and purchasing licenses online. Offers educational workshops on hunting and fishing, some specifically for young people.

Frank’s Fly Arts: franksflyarts.com. Offers fishing tours, fly-tying classes and more.

Thomas Newman Public Boat Landing: Granby Landing Rd. This City of Cayce boat ramp features a large parking area, access to the Three Rivers greenway, a floating dock and a broad ramp to the water.

Palmetto Outdoor Center: 731 Meeting St., West Columbia. 131 Alexander Rd., West Columbia (seasonal) 803-404-8254, palmettooutdoor.com. Guided paddling tours. Offers tube rentals and a shuttle service from the West Columbia Riverwalk parking lot during warmer months.

Phoenix Adventures: 220 Orchard Hill Dr., West Columbia. 803-575-2925. phoenixadventures.com. From day trips down the river to overnight or multi-day wilderness excursions, Phoenix Adventures wants to get you outdoors.

Saluda Valley Guides, LLC: 803-312-2435. saludavalleyguidesllc.weebly.com. Teaches fly fishing skills and leads both fly and conventional fishing trips on the Saluda and Congaree.

Cayce Tennis Center

Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center

Sports & Recreation

Ball Park Road Sports Complex: 432 Ball Park Rd., Lexington. 803-359-0690, lcrac.com. Fifteen baseball and softball fields, four tennis courts.

Bodyshop Athletics Max: 5347 B Sunset Blvd., Lexington. bodyshopathletics.com. Private athletics facility featuring gym, 12 clay and four hard-surface lighted tennis courts, and a junior Olympic swimming pool for all member families.

Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center: 1120 Fort Congaree Trail, Cayce. 803-227-3030. A massive and well-kept modern tennis complex hosting tournaments and offering year-round lessons. Also has a gym.

Congaree Rapid Soccer Association: congareerapid.com. Develops youth soccer players in the Cayce-West Columbia-Columbia area who aspire to be talented high school-level players.

Gibson Road Soccer Complex: Duffie Dr., Lexington. 803-359-4048. lcrac.com. Soccer fields, volleyball courts, baseball fields. Picnic shelters, playground and walking trail, too.

Gilbert-Summit Sports Complex: 100 Broad St., Leesville. lcrac.com. Football, baseball, softball and soccer fields; tennis and basketball courts; canteen.

Global Premiere Soccer: gps-carolina.com. Local soccer club affiliated with FC Bayern.

Howard Park Sports Complex: 200 Cougar Dr., West Columbia. lcrac.com. Football and baseball fields, canteens, walking trail.

Irmo-Chapin Recreation Commission: 5605 Bush River Rd., Columbia. icrc.net. Offers youth and adult sports, maintains three parks in the Irmo-Chapin area.

Lexington County Blowfish: 474 Ball Park Rd., Lexington. 803-254-3474, goblowfishbaseball.com. Amateur collegiate wood bat summer league baseball team competing in the Coastal Plain League. Games run May through August.

Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission: 563 S. Lake Drive, Lexington. 803-359-4048, lcrac.com. Operates roughly 35 sports and recreation centers in Lexington County.

Lexington County Tennis Complex: 425 Oak Dr., Lexington. 803-957-7676, lcrac.com. Two-story clubhouse facility, men’s and women’s locker rooms, pro shop.

Lexington Dixie Baseball: lexingtondixiebaseball.com. Dixie Youth baseball organization with teams for kids ages 4–19.

Lexington Family YMCA: 401 YMCA Rd., Lexington, 803-359-3376. columbiaymca.org/locations/.lexington-family-ymca/. The Lexington Family YMCA offers a complete lineup of activities and programs for the whole family. Sports, strength and wellness, health screenings, tennis, equestrian and childcare.

Midlands Sports Complex: 2753 Fish Hatchery Rd., West Columbia. lcrac.com. Baseball fields, tennis courts, canteens, playground, picnic shelters.

Pine Grove Sports Complex: 701 Old Barnwell Rd., West Columbia. lcrac.com. Softball and soccer fields, playground, canteen, picnic area, walking trail.

Plex HiWire Family Fun & Sports Center: 1019 Broad Stone Rd., Irmo. 803-732-1900, plexhiwire.com. A trampoline park, indoor obstacle course, ice skating rink and arcade all under one roof.

Red Bank Arena: 1159 Nazareth Rd., Lexington. lcrac.com. Baseball and softball fields, playground, canteens, BMX track.

Riverbanks Zoo: 1300 Botanical Parkway, West Columbia. riverbanks.org. Beyond the animals and plants, Riverbanks offers outdoor fun: Waterfall Junction, a 3-acre interactive children’s garden featuring a dinosaur dig, giant tree houses, kid-size playhouses, a splash zone and more; a children’s train ride that traverses the zoo; a high ropes course; and a zipline.

Skate Station USA: 129 Oak Dr., Lexington, 803-356-3500. skatestatonusalexsc.com. Public roller skating Friday through Sunday; Monday is family night. Available for birthdays, private parties, fundraisers, lessons, jump and spin classes.

Three Fountains Skating Rink: 2724 Emanuel Church Rd., West Columbia, 803-359-1123, threefountainsrecreation.com. Roller skating and indoor golf.

Peachtree Rock

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve | photo courtesy S.C. Department of Natural Resources

Parks, Trails and Community Centers

12,000 Year History Park: 1120 Fort Congaree Trail, Cayce, 803-765-2200. Part of the Three Rivers Greenway, this historical site is where an 1865 Civil War battle occurred and is also the location of historical earthworks. Offers guided walking tours.

Batesburg-Leesville Leisure Center: 222 Highland Ave., Batesburg, 803-532-3810, lcrac.com. Racquetball, wallyball and basketball courts for rent; free walking track. Offers classes, activities and programs.

Burnette Park: 2300 Lee St., Cayce.cityofcayce-sc.gov/parks.asp. Playground, picnic shelter, walking trail.

Caractor Park: 804 Hendrix St., Lexington. lexsc.com/parks_caractor.htm. Park offers a mist fountain, hopscotch court, playground with rope climber and sheltered picnic area. Located behind Lexington Medical Center.

Churchill Garden: 2200 Windsor Dr., Cayce. cityofcayce-sc.gov/parks.asp.

Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve: 634 Old State Rd., Cayce.dnr.sc.gov/managedlands. Part of the state Department of Natural Resources Managed Lands program, this 627-acre preserve features the 2.7-mile Guignard Clay Quarry Loop Trail. Careful, though: Alligators have been spotted here.

Corley Street Park: 210 Corley St., Lexington. lexsc.com/parks_corley_street.htm. This small park offers upgraded playground equipment as well as a spray pool, rain garden, grills and restroom.

Crooked Creek Park: 1098 Old Lexington Hwy., Chapin. 803-345-6181, icrc.net. A community center with a gym and racquetball courts, tennis courts, athletic fields, picnic areas and walking trails and a 27-hole disc golf course.

Douglas Reeves Community Park: 761 Augusta Rd., West Columbia. lcrac.com. Tennis courts, restroom, playground.

Edmund Park & Community Center: Edmund Highway, South Congaree. lcrac.com. Tennis courts, basketball courts, playground, community building, picnic shelters.

Eric Fowler Community Park: 1800 C Ave., West Columbia. lcrac.com. Playground.

Fourteen Mile Creek Trail: 1104 N. Lake Dr., Lexington. 803-580-0218. Three-quarter-mile looped trail with bridges, educational kiosks and an outdoor learning center. Runs along Fourteen Mile Creek.

Gibson Pond Park: 241 Gibson Rd., Lexington.lexsc.com/parks_gibson_pond.htm. Wooded park on 15 acres with a fishing dock, picnic shelters and barbecue pit, plus a loop trail and restrooms.

Gilbert-Summit Multi-Purpose Facility: 411 Broad St., Gilbert. 803-892-4623, lcrac.com. Open to residents 60 and older before 2 p.m.

Glenwood Park: 1200 Hazel St., Cayce. cityofcayce-sc.gov/parks.asp.

Granby Gardens Park: 1800 12th St., Cayce.cityofcayce-sc.gov/parks.asp. Features a covered shelter with eight picnic tables, a stage, four barbecue pits, and access to electricity and water.

Guignard Park: 301 Knox Abbott Dr., Cayce.803-796-9020, cityofcayce-sc.gov. Wooded park in the heart of Cayce with a stream running through the middle of the park, picnic tables, play area.

Halleywood Park: Maple Rd., Lexington, lcrac.com. Baseball, tennis courts, playground.

Harbison State Forest: 5600 Broad River Rd., (off I-26 ext 101), 803-896-8897. The 2,177 acres of forest incorporates one of the largest public green spaces inside the city limits of a metropolitan area in the eastern United States. Features more than 16 miles of roads and trails (popular for biking) and a canoe landing. While it’s technically in Richland County, its proximity to Irmo makes it a favored spot for Lexington County folks.

Hollow Creek Park: Beula Church Rd., Gilbert. Tennis courts, basketball courts, playground, picnic shelter.

Irmo Community Park: 7473 Church St., Irmo, 803-781-7050. Wooded 14-acre site that includes a paved trail, playgrounds, a grassy area, a picnic shelter, restrooms and a 500-seat amphitheater.

Irmo Town Park: 7330 Carlisle St. Irmo, 803-781-7050. This small but lovely park boasts beautiful terraces and lamp posts as well as a concert gazebo and a pond with a fountain.

Lake Murray Dam Public Park: 2101 N. Lake Dr., Columbia, 803-217-9221, sceg.com/about-us/lakes-and-recreation. Large swimming beach with dozens of picnic shelters, some of which can be reserved for groups.

Lexington Leisure Center: 108 Park Rd., Lexington, 803-957-7828, lcrac.com. Racquetball and basketball courts for rent; free walking track. Offers classes, activities and programs.

Lexington Square Park: 205 E Main St., Lexington. lexsc.com/parks_virginia_hylton.htm. Downtown Lexington park featuring landscaping, a water fountain and the Lexington County Law Enforcement Memorial.

Melvin Park: 370A Eptings Camp Rd., Chapin.803-345-8113, icrc.net.Six-field baseball complex, eight tennis courts, splash pad.

Peachtree Rock heritage Preserve: 883 Peachtree Rock Rd., Swansea. 843-937-8807, scgreatoutdoors.com/park-peachtree.html. Sadly, the geological wonder known as Peachtree Rock — a triangular-shaped top-heavy sandstone formation that had stood on its pointed base for millions of years — is no longer standing. The good news? You can see the formation lying on its side, as well as Little Peachtree Rock and the rest of this beautiful 460-acre preserve, which has the only waterfall in the coastal plain, and several hiking trails highlight the interesting and unusual scenery. Located off S.C. 6 in southern Lexington County near Swansea. Camping is not permitted, and there are no paved roads, no picnic tables, no restrooms and no trash cans.

Red Bank Park & Community Center: 228 Community Dr., Lexington. lcrac.com. Softball field, tennis courts, picnic shelter.

Rosamunda Percell-Butler Park: 1100 Raleigh St., West Columbia. lcrac.com. 803-794-0408. Basketball, playground, picnic shelter.

Saluda Shoals Park: 5605 Bush River Rd., Columbia. 803-772-1228, icrc.net. Situated on 270 acres downstream from the Lake Murray Dam, Saluda Shoals features a popular water park, an environmental education center, canoe trips, nature hikes, biking trails, fishing spots, picnic shelters, art exhibits, summer camps, health and wellness programs, meeting facilities and more. Good trout fishing, if you like to wade.

Seven Oaks Park: 200 Leisure Lane, Columbia. 803-772-3336, icrc.net. Three full gymnasiums with fitness area and indoor walking track; senior center; dance and art studios; meeting rooms; nine athletic fields; six tennis courts; paved walking trails; picnic shelters; and playgrounds.

South Congaree Town Park: 119 W. Berry Rd., South Congaree.

lcrac.com. 803-755-2760. Basketball, sand volleyball, picnic shelter, playground.

Spires Recreation Center: 1500 Dunbar Rd., Cayce. 803-791-1361, lcrac.com.

Springdale Park: Sightler Dr., Springdale. lcrac.com. Tennis courts, playground.

Springdale Town Park: 2915 Platt Springs Rd., Springdale. lcrac.com. Picnic shelter, playground, spray pool.

Summit Park & Playground: 207 W. Hampton St., Summit. Quiet park and playground.

Sunnyside Park: 1411 Sunnyside Dr., Cayce. 803-359-9961, lexingtonsc.org.Baseball, football and soccer fields. Also has a playground and canteens.

Three Rivers Greenway: 803-765-2200, riveralliance.org. A partnership between local governments, the River Alliance has spent years building segments of the Three Rivers Greenway, a linear park along the Saluda, Broad and Congaree rivers. Popular for walking, biking and jogging. Two key sections of the greenway lie in Lexington County: the Cayce Riverwalk and the West Columbia Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater.

Cayce Riverwalk: 201 Naples Ave., cayce.cityofcayce-sc.gov/riverwalk.asp, 803-550-9520. Of all the local governments that have built sections of the Three Rivers Greenway, Cayce has gone above and beyond, extending miles of trail south along the Congaree River, including the 12,000 Year History Park, a National Park Service partnership that highlights the area’s history from the Ice Age to the Civil War; and the Timmerman Trail, a wooded 3.5-mile stretch of pathway that connects to SCANA’s Cayce headquarters. Lighted, paved pathways and wooden boardwalks, scenic overlooks on the river and waterfalls, seating and picnic areas, covered picnic shelters. Restroom facilities and convenient parking.

West Columbia Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater: Meeting Street and Alexander Road, West Columbia, 803-791-1880. westcolumbiasc.gov. This section of the Three Rivers Greenway — running along the west side of Congaree River and under the Gervais Street and Blossom Street bridges — offers some fantastic views and is a popular place for people to jog and walk dogs. Amenities include restroom facilities, picnic tables, a riverside amphitheater and a canoe launch bay.

Tri-City Leisure Center: 485 Brooks Ave., West Columbia. 803-939-9309, lcrac.com. Racquetball, and basketball courts for rent; free walking track. Offers classes, activities and programs.

Virginia Hylton Park: 111 Maiden Lane, Lexington. 803-359-1027. lexsc.com/parks_virginia_hylton.htm. Amenities include walking trail, special needs playground, koi pond, brook, daylily garden and three covered gazebos with grills.

Barking Lot at Saluda Shoals Park dogs running with ball

Barking Lot at Saluda Shoals Park | photo by John Carlos

Dog Parks

Barking Lot: 5605 Bush River Rd., Columbia, icrc.net/barking-lot-dog-park. Features two bone-shaped pools for dogs to cool off in, plus other amenities. At Saluda Shoals Park.

Lexington Paw Park: 999 Hendrix St., Lexington, lexsc.com/parks_paw.htm. 803-359-1027 Three-acre dog park.

Golf

The Caddy Shak & Stonebridge Golf Club: 381 Pilgrim Church Rd., Lexington, 803-356-4653, mycaddyshak.com. Practice range and par-three golf club.

Charwood Country Club: 222 Clubhouse Dr., West Columbia, 803-755-2000, charwood.com.

Country Club of Lexington: 1066 Barr Rd., Lexington, 803-359-8838, ccoflexington.com.

Golden Hills Golf and Country Club: 100 Scotland Dr., Lexington, 803-957-3355, goldenhillsgolf.com.

Hidden Valley Golf Club: 147 Excalibur Ct., Gaston, 803-794-8087, hvgolf.com.

Indian River Golf Club: 200 Indian River Dr., West Columbia, 803-955-0080.

Indian Trail Golf Course: 1304 Willis St., Batesburg, 803-532-9010, golfindiantrail.com.

Lake Murray Golf Center: 2032 Old Hilton Rd., Chapin, 803-345-0199. Nine-hole, public course.

Par Tee Golf Center Mini Golf: 3209 Charleston Hwy., West Columbia, 803-796-5900, parteegolfsc.com. Eighteen-hole mini-golf course.

Timberlake Country Club: 222 Timberlake Dr., Chapin, 803-345-9909, timberlakecountryclub.com.

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