Back River is accessed from Durham Creek Landing on Cypress Gardens Road, adjacent to the highway bridge. Upon launching, you will paddle to the east – under the highway bridge and the railroad trestle just beyond. The tides are approximately three hours behind Charleston Harbor tides.
About the Trail
You can paddle these backwaters for a distance of approximately 3 miles before it narrows to little more than a ditch. Two miles after entering the creek, you will come to a well-manicured clearing on your left with a floating dock. This is Medway Plantation. It consisted of 12,000 acres of land that passed to Mr. John D’Arssens by decree of the Governor in the 1680’s. Portions of the original house exist today, created from bricks made from clay along the Cooper River. Fort Sumter was built using Carolina Gray bricks produced on this plantation. Today, along the banks fronting the plantation, you will see bricks that were made here during the era serving as rip-rap and bulk-heading. It should be noted that this is private property. A short distance beyond the plantation, you may see remnants of dikes and gates that were instrumental in maintaining flooded rice fields along the banks. You will pass under the railroad trestle and shortly thereafter a wooden bridge to the plantation. You can paddle about a half of a mile further, before the waterway narrows enough to make paddling difficult. Forestation is a mixed bag of pine, cypress, sweet gum, hardwoods, red cedar and river birch. In the summer, you will see lots of flowering water lilies and plants. The waterway is home to wood ducks, blue heron, American egrets and osprey. On the upper reaches, you may spot white tailed deer. Small alligators are quite common throughout the Back River section.
On return to the main channel of Durham Creek – Back River, you have a choice of paddling back to the west (down Durham Creek about 1.2 miles to Durham Creek Landing) or turning to the east and paddling about 6 and one half miles to Bushy Park Landing (paddling the entire Back River section of the Cooper River). This will require positioning a vehicle in advance or arranging for pickup. The total distance of the latter option would be about 12 and one half miles, as opposed to about 8 and one half miles for a round trip from Durham Creek Landing.