Friday, June 13, 2014

Northbridge Park

Charleston’s newest park is probably one of the smallest parks in the city of Charleston but a huge benefit to canoeist and kayakers. The site is only 3 acres in size features a pier and dock, a canoe/kayak launch, a small picnic area, and has 16 parking spaces. The park is located on south shore of the Ashley River on Cosgrove Avenue at the base of the North Bridge. The park cost the city $1.5 million and opened on March 27th, 2014.

This park is surrounded by a tidal flat section of the Ashley River. This area contains redfish year round but in the past Marian and myself has also caught whiting, sea trout, and flounder in this area. In the past you could have launched from the shoreline but the area had questionable parking and safety concerns. Another issue this area has is when there is a positive high tide the Ashley River could flood beyond the dirt road that provided some type of access. This resulted in a road that had big pot holes.
Now the park has a small sea wall constructed around the shoreline to prevent the high tides to erode the sidewalks, bike paths, and the paved road and parking spaces that have been put in place. For safety the city also installed street lighting around the road network on the small park. There are even toilet facilities.
The boardwalk/sidewalk provides access to the pier and the shoreline for those that prefer to fish from the shore or for those that like to hunt for shark’s teeth. The walk way also is designed for wheelchairs or for the elderly. This also provides easy access to the pier for fishing for those that are handicapped.
The canoe/kayak launch is actually the dock portion. You can either load your kayak on a dolly or carry the yak to the pier and down the ramp to the dock. This dock is designed really unique in my opinion. The dock is U-shaped with a submerged floor that your kayak sits on. There are two steps down to the water level that covers the submerged floor. The floor is like a honeycomb so that water is feed from the opening of the deck and through the floor. This makes launching from this site very easy. One concern that I can see is that for the fishing kayaks of today the submerged deck has only room for a single kayak. For touring kayaks you could get two is my guess. The deck has room for maybe three or four kayaks waiting for their turn to launch. I’m sure if you have confidence in the stability of your kayak you could actually launch from the deck itself. Of course there is always the shoreline under the bridge.
We found the launch to be pretty easy using the Jackson Cuda 14 and the Jackson Coosa using the Wheeleez Kayak/Canoe Cart with Tuff-Tire Wheels to transport the kayaks to the kayak launch. The ability to start paddling from the launch and not having to push the kayak across shells and gravel was super. When we were out on the Ashley River it was really surprising to see the numbers of kayakers were enjoying the water. I have paddled this section for a few years and the usage of this section of the Ashley has increased significantly because of the park.
We paddled towards the Dolphin Marine Cove fishing the shoreline. We were not very successful on this trip but I did have several hits by small bluefish. In fact Marian was so bored with the fishing she tested out the Jackson Coosa’s stability by reclining the Jackson Elite Seat and took a nap in one of the small creeks. After a while it was time to wake Marian up and head back to test the reentry onto the canoe/kayak launch platform.
The experience of paddling back onto dock was great. Lifting the Jackson Cuda from the side worked great. Placing the kayak on the cart to transport up the ramp to the pier and to be parking lot was effortless. With the interest in kayaking is increasing and now that the city of Charleston is noticing this increase; I’m hoping that there will be more canoe/kayak launch sites built so we will not have to compete against motor boats at the other public launches.
Thanks to the Lowcountry Paddlers for suggesting to the city of Charleston to create this park. A special thanks for the SC Department of Transportation for allowing the city of Charleston to use this piece of land and to the city of Charleston budgeting the $1.5 million to build this park.

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