(Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

If you love the outdoors, you might want to know about a new South Carolina river to explore.  Plus it’s just an hour from Charlotte.  Public access to parts of the Duke Energy Great Falls enhancement project will open on March 18.

The river is new because the project actually returns water to two Catawba River channels. The channels have been dry since the construction of the Great Falls Hydro Station in 1907.  Officials believe the work will not only restore habitat for aquatic life but will also provide many recreational opportunities.

“We’re looking forward to sharing these new opportunities with the public,” Duke Energy recreation project manager Christy Churchill said in a news release.  “With improvements like boater access, parking, an interpretive center, trails, and, of course, the river stretches for novice to experienced canoers and kayakers alike, this area will have a lot to offer the community.”

You’ll be able to access the new river channels at the improved Nitrolee Access Area.  It’s just off Highway 21 north of Great Falls, South Carolina.  The Nitrolee site is the former home of a fertilizer plant and now contains parking, restrooms, and boat access.  The release about the Duke Energy Great Falls enhancement project says the Nitrolee Access Area will eventually link to the Carolina Thread Trail.

Then in May, boaters will be able to navigate more than two miles of channels that contain Class II and Class III rapids.  These area will be fed by flow modifications at the dam.

The Great Falls area of Chester County, South Carolina is already well known by whitewater rafters.  The enhancement will literally give outdoor lovers a new river to explore.