Lake Robinson

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When we need a quick escape on the water, there is nothing like a sunset paddle on Lake Robinson. It’s only 25 minutes away from our house, the view is lovely, and it usually boasts very smooth calm waters.  If you visit on a clear day, there are gently sloping foothills and sharper angled mountains piling up at the base of the lake, but on any day you are treated to a heavily tree lined, very clean body of water that is quite pleasant and quiet. Motors over 10 HP are forbidden, so there is not much wake or high speed traffic to worry about, and with the exception of the odd fishing boat or pontoon, we have often found the whole 800 acre lake essentially unoccupied. Though Robinson is bordered by homes, they are well-spaced and Greer Commission of Public Works maintains strict guidelines about cutting down trees and building within the 50 foot margin they control along the shore. I’m sure this gets trying for the home owners at times, but it has kept the lake looking very peaceful and natural.

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For some amount of time, I had very little interest in Lake Robinson because of what felt like so many rules and regulations. I am not a rule breaker. I don’t like getting in trouble. Maybe it’s because I’m a firstborn, maybe it’s just being a people pleaser in general (something I’m trying to work on); whatever the case may be, it made me feel nervous to have so many do’s and don’ts, like it would be easy to mess up by accident and get scolded. Paddle boards are off limits ( a posted sign now states this specifically) and online there is a whole list of motorized and non-motorized water sports that are likewise forbidden. Swimming is also off limits in these enticing, pristine waters, and for awhile, I felt like half the fun of kayaking was being able to jump in if you wanted to! All together, I had the impression of Lake Robinson being a stuffy, somewhat stifling place, but I really hadn’t given it much of a chance.

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No rules against selfie sticks!

When I actually began to visit the lake and go paddling there more regularly, I found a lot to like. We had some very friendly interactions with the wardens (no scolding :)), and I decided that touring kayaks are not super conducive to getting in and out for a quick dip in the middle of a lake anyway. It’s doable, but not super tempting to me.  I also learned to appreciate Lake Robinson for what it is instead of being disappointed and intimidated by what it is not. If you want a spot where you can swim, roll your kayak, try out your new paddle boards, go camping or beach your boats for a picnic in a hidden cove–this is not it. (See instead, Lake Jocassee) However, if you live in or around Greenville and want to crank out up to 9ish miles of paddling in a lovely, peaceful setting before breakfast or after work, this is a very convenient spot. You can get to it quickly and the access area is very convenient, well kept and inexpensive (only $3/kayak * Update: The day pass price went up to $20 this year (2015), while the year pass remains $30. I think it’s safe to say they are encouraging the yearly pass. We found this change super frustrating, but the lake is still an amazing spot. ). There are many nice spots to just sit and soak in the beauty or eat a lunch. Nice bathrooms are available and supposedly there is some decent fishing to boot.

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After realizing this and getting more excited about paddling as an adventure-workout that is possible during all of our relatively mild seasons, I came to appreciate Lake Robinson much more. We have visited numerous times over the last few months and the convenience combined with its natural beauty have me fully sold on this spot. If you haven’t been, you should go, even if it’s just for a picnic.*

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Photo Credit: David Nigh

Keep looking for adventure far and nigh!

*Note: Kayaks can be rented at Half Moon Outfitters in Greenville, Rock’s Country Store across from the park entrance, and Sunrift Adventures in Travelers Rest. If you do kayak, make sure to bring a life vest and a whistle. Free whistles can be obtained from the warden, but you could be warned/or fined without these items. Passes are obtained from the warden’s office.

Paddle on Lake Oolenoy

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View of Pinnacle Mountain and Bald Rock

We paddled Lake Oolenoy on Christmas Eve. It was a spontaneous plan that unfolded when Lake Robinson, a lovely 800 acre lake near our home, was closed. We had already loaded our boats up and driven 20 whole minutes when we realized this, and it felt too disappointing and lame to just turn back after making such an effort on Christmas Eve. Instead of admitting defeat, we opted to tack on 30 minutes and push our way up to Lake Oolenoy.

I have to admit, I was a little critical of poor Lake Oolenoy before I actually went there. It has the misfortune of being on our route to Lake Joccassee, one of the most gorgeous, epic places in South Carolina. No matter how pleasant Lake Oolenoy might be, I could not imagine it being as grand and stunning as Lake Joccassee.  This means that if we plan out a paddling adventure of any consequence, we are almost always willing to drive the extra 30-45 minutes required to bypass Lake Oolenoy and arrive at our beloved Jocassee. However,  this Christmas Eve our time frame required as little extra driving time as possible and a relatively short paddle when we got to our destination. Lake Oolenoy ended up being a perfect solution. At less than an hour from Greenville, it is easy to get to and with only 67 acres to its name it is perfect for a short exploration. The lake is very pretty, undeveloped, and clean with remarkable views of Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain.  It’s a great little spot to explore and there are nice picnic areas and bathrooms available by the boat ramp access point. We would definitely come back, and perhaps try taking out a SUP.

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Paddle this Lake: If you’re coming from Greenville, you will pass the main entrance to Table Rock State Park on your right before crossing the bridge over Lake Oolenoy and arriving at the boat ramp on your left.  For more information about seasonal hours and directions see the state park website.

Recommendations: Bring a camera for some great views of Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain.

Note: There are two lakes in Table Rock State Park. Lake Pinnacle does not allow public boat access; however, they rent kayaks and canoes. Both kayaks and SUPs are permitted on Lake Oolenoy.