Beaufort Blueways
Self-guided Paddling Trails
ACE Basin
This kayak trail follows Sugar Hill Creek to the Combahee River, along the way passing signs of the former rice culture, a botanically-rich ecosystem, birds and maybe even an alligator. For a map of the trail, including GPS waypoints and other information, click here
How To Use This Trail

 · Tides in the ACE Basin are not as strong as in the Beaufort and Sea Islands area, but still need to be considered. Sugar Hill Creek can be quite shallow at low tide, so we suggest trying to time your trip around the high tide. Click here for tide tables for this area. Click on the Bluff Plantation selection under "Combahee River", then choose your dates at the bottom.

 · Depending on your route, this trip is rated "easy" to “intermediate”, mostly based on trip length. Hazards that may be encountered include open water on the Combahee River, wind-generated waves, tidal currents, motorized boats, and summertime heat and thunderstorms.

 · Be aware of weather conditions. Up to the minute forecasts should be consulted before beginning this trip. Strong winds should be avoided. Click here for a weather forecast.

Approaching Ladys Island landing at dusk

The blackwater of the ACE Basin is known
for it's beautiful reflections. 

ACE Basin General Information

The Ashepoo, Combahee and South Edisto (ACE) Basin represents one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the east coast of the United States. The ACE Basin consists of approximately 350,000 acres of diverse habitats including pine and hardwood uplands, forested wetlands, fresh, brackish and salt water tidal marshes, barrier islands and beaches. The basin's unique estuarine system, the largest of its type in the state, provides invaluable habitat for a rich diversity of finfish and shellfish resources. The basin hosts a wealth of wildlife resources, including such endangered and threatened species as bald eagles, woodstorks, ospreys, loggerhead sea turtles and shortnose sturgeon, and offers a variety of recreational uses.

In the mid-1700s tidal swamps bordering the rivers were cleared and diked for rice culture. After the rice culture declined in the late 1800s, wealthy sportsmen purchased many of the plantations as hunting retreats. The new owners successfully managed the former ricefields and adjacent upland areas for a wide range of wildlife. This tradition of land stewardship has continued throughout the 20th century. Because of their importance to waterfowl, these former ricefields have been identified for protection under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The ACE Basin also has been designated as a world class ecosystem under The Nature Conservancy’s Last Great Places program.

In 1988, the ACE Basin Project was launched when Ducks Unlimited (DU), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and private landowners formed a coalition known as the ACE Basin Task Force. Westvaco Corporation, the Lowcountry Open Land Trust (LOLT) and Nemours Wildlife Foundation joined the Task Force in 1998. The mission of the ACE Basin Project is to maintain the natural character of the basin by promoting wise resource management on private lands and protecting strategic tracts by conservation agencies. A major goal of the protection efforts is to ensure that traditional uses such as farming, forestry, recreational and commercial fishing and hunting will continue in the area.

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