Edisto River Facts & History

The Edisto River

The Edisto River is typically divided into three distinct geographic segments: The South Fork of the Edisto, North Fork of the Edisto, and Main Stem of the Edisto.  The South and North Forks meet near Branchville, SC to form the Main Stem.  The Main Stem continues its meandering path for 119 miles to the river mouth next to Edisto Beach. The Edisto River Canoe and Kayak (ERCK) Trail refers to a section of the upper Main Stem running 62 miles from Green Pond Church Landing to Lowndes Landing.  With unspoiled scenery, easy access, and two state parks located along its banks, the ERCK Trail is a recreational gem for locals and visitors alike. 

Since 1989, the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Commission has promoted responsible recreation on the ERCK Trail and has been its greatest steward and champion. The Edisto River’s name originated from the word edisto, a Native American term that means “black” and refers to the dark color of the river created from decaying leaves and other plant material. It was most likely named by the Edisto Tribe, a member of the Cusabo family of tribes that lived along the lower Edisto River in present-day Edisto Island and surrounding Charleston and Colleton counties. This tribe gradually disappeared from disease and warfare in the early 1700s. However, the Kusso-Natchez Tribe adopted Edisto Indian Organization as their new name in the 1960s in honor of their ancestral settlements along the river in present-day Dorchester and Colleton counties.  Communities of their descendants live there today. For more information regarding the larger Edisto River system beyond the ERCK Trail visit our partners Friends of the Edisto (FRED)

Fast Facts

  • There are approximately 310 unobstructed river miles from the headwaters in Edgefield and Saluda counties to the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Edisto is considered the longest free-flowing blackwater river in the United States and one of the longest worldwide.
  • The Edisto is the only major river in South Carolina that is entirely contained inside the state borders.
  • The basin produces around 1/5 of South Carolina’s timber and forest products and around 1/3 of crops and livestock.
  • The Edisto supports several rare, nationally threatened, and endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, southern bald eagle, wood stork, loggerhead turtle, and short-nosed sturgeon.
  • A total of 87 freshwater species and 120 saltwater species of fish have been identified in the Edisto, and is most known by anglers for its largemouth bass, striped bass, redbreast sunfish, and black crappie.
  • There are around 12,000 acres of rice field impoundments found in the tidal areas of the river system.
Scroll to top