Lansford Canal State Park’s Rocky Shoals Spider lilies bloom by the thousands for just a few weeks. It’s the largest stand of these lilies found anywhere. While this spectacle of mother nature isn’t the only reason to visit Lansford Canal State Park, it is one of the most popular. The Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies only bloom for a few weeks a year, and we have all the info you’ll need to get a peek at them.
The Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies at Landsford Canal State Park
Catching a glimpse of these beautiful flowers isn’t impossible, but it will take a little bit of planning and spontaneity. High water levels thwarted my attempts at seeing the lilies in 2020 at the Catawba and bad weather. In 2021, I was determined to share this with our readers! With a little help from the SC State Park Lily Watch Updates page and better weather this year, we made it!
I believe the Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies are best viewed up close, and for that to happen, you will need to paddle to the middle of the river. The only way to do this is to BYO kayak and be an experienced paddler. Unfortunately, time restrictions didn’t permit me to bring our kayaks on this trip. If you have a kayak of your own and would like a guided tour to join, The Catawba Riverkeeper group offers them for $10 per person.
2022 Dates: Saturday, May 28 – 9 AM and 12:30 pm | Saturday, June 4 – 9 am and 12:30 pm
If you are going to paddle the river without a tour, be warned that it is not for novice paddlers. This isn’t a “Break in the new paddler” type experience. The Catawba River within the park includes Class I and borderline Class II rapids (with sufficient rain, class III is possible). If you are used to navigating the flat water of Upstate lakes, you could find yourself in a bind. For experienced paddlers, the put-in is located at the top of the second parking area after you drive past the playground and take a right.
Trails at Landsford Canal State Park
The lilies are viewable from a viewing platform on the shore after a short hike. There are two trail options to choose from: a shorter trail through the woods, or the longer more scenic riverside trail. To access the trailhead, you’ll park in front of the playground area and take the path past the cabin and to the right.
- The Canal Trail
When you come to the Kids In Parks (more on that later) activity station, you will take the trail to the right. The Canal Trail follows the 200-year-old ruins of a stone canal that ran to the river and made it commercially navigable from 1820 to 1835. Hence the name of the park. This is a shorter trail to the viewing platform that is level and easy. Hiking from the Kids In Parks sign to the viewing platform is roughly 20 minutes. Due to exposed tree roots, this is NOT a stroller-friendly trail.
- The Nature Trail
You will want to follow the river and head down the trail to the left from the Kids In Parks sign. Several spots make a great photo along the way next to the river. While this is noted as a longer trail by the State Park website, we found both to be approximately 20 minutes one way. This trail is flat and suitable for a sport stroller if necessary.
The lilies bloom from mid-May to mid-June, depending on the rainfall and the river. To monitor the blooms, head to the Lily Watch Updates page.
Kids in Parks is a Free Program Where Your Kids Can Earn Prizes at Lansford Canal State Park
Kids in Parks recently expanded to several South Carolina State Parks and is definitely something your family should sign up for this summer. The program offers a user-friendly website that includes an always-expanding list of nationwide locations considered TRACK trails. It allows families to search for locations near their hometown or even for an out-of-town adventure.
The program includes over 160 TRACK Trails in 10 states, Washington DC, and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, with dozens of locations just a short drive away in North Carolina and several new locations in South Carolina. There are even activities for you to do in your own backyard!
Year-Round Fun At Landsford Canal State Park
Landsford State Park is a great place to explore year-round. The state park doesn’t offer camping facilities, but there are picnic shelters, and picnic tables on the river banks that each have their own charcoal grills. There are restrooms, a playground, and if you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of a Bald Eagle.
Landsford Canal State Park
2051 Park Drive, Catawba SC | 803.789.5800
Free for kids 5 and under | $3.50 for kids age 6-15 | $6 for Adults age 16+