Our trailer loaded with kayaks
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kayak shuttle service

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

Have your own boats, but need help setting shuttle for your trip downriver? Pricing is $15 within our operating area which includes lower Lake Wylie, the Fort Mill Dam, and the Catawba river takeouts Riverwalk (the Pump House restaurant) and River Park. Please add $5/per if you need us to transport your boats.

 

For KAYAK RENTALS and RENTAL+SHUTTLE service please go here.

We are a MOM & POP family operated business with limited availability. We appreciate planning ahead, but you can try calling us on the fly! Call or text 803-616-1568.

Thank you for supporting a local business!!

We prefer cash, Venmo, Paypal, or Zelle as payment but also can accept credit cards with an additional 3.5% processing fee. Payment made at the time of reservation.

Payment required in advance. PAYMENT = RESERVATION!

Tips appreciated!

We're your local Charlotte/Fort Mill area

Kayak Shuttle Bunny!

HOW IT WORKS: We’re a Mom & Pop mini-outfitters with a mini-van and trailer. We can pack our fleet of 20 kayaks on our trailer, but can only transport up to six people in our van. We charge $15 per shuttle regardless which direction you choose to go and add $5 per boat for the trailer.

We prefer and recommend the PRE-PADDLE SHUTTLE.  We meet you at the TAKE-OUT where you can park your cars and we transport you and your boats to the PUT-IN. That way, your vehicles will be waiting for you when your adventure is completed.

It's also possible to arrange a POST-PADDLE SHUTTLE.  We'll meet you at your take-out after your trip and drive you back to the put-in to retrieve your vehicles.


FORT MILL DAM TO RIVERWALK OR RIVER PARK: Our most common put-in and take-out here on our section of the Catawba River is the Fort Mill Dam down to Riverwalk park next to the Pump House restaurant in Rock Hill. It’s about a 1.5 to 3 hour paddle depending on water flow and how long you choose to play. If you want a little longer paddle, the next take-out past the Pump House is River Park, about another 1.5 - 3 hours, depending on length of play and water flow. This is also within our normal operating area.

NOTE: Landsford Canal State Park and Catawba River Nation boat launch are outside of our normal operating area. If you have your own boats and just need shuttle service, pricing is $50 + $5 per boat.

UNLESS we are already there with other groups in which case we'll honor our regular $15 per trip + $5 per boat fee.

Just check in with us to find out.

We are open to assisting you and your group in more distant, longer adventures with advance notice, prepayment and agreed-upon rate to be determined based on the request. Generally we ask $1 per mile from our home office in Fort Mill, each way of our shuttle.

Terms and conditions: Please no open containers of alcohol and no eating in our van. And if we determine any member of your party is overly intoxicated to the point of being a problem for our driver, we reserve the right to refund your money and refuse transport.

Optimist Training LLC is a Mom & Pop family-operated mini-outfitters and shuttle service on lower Lake Wylie and the Catawba River based out of Fort Mill, SC. We have a limited fleet and offer guided river tours, paddling instruction, shuttle service and and boat rentals for small groups, families, and kids.

 

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.

GUIDED RIVER ADVENTURES


Billy’s experience in paddling, nature and environmental science makes for a rich adventure. He’s been teaching paddling and guiding river trips for decades and everyone always has a great time. You’ll always remember your day on the water with Billy! Enjoy the great outdoors alongside an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and experienced kayak instructor and guide soaking in all the beauty our river, lakes and wildlife have to offer.

Here in the Fort Mill area just 30 minutes south of Charlotte, we have both Lake Wylie and the Catawba River, which flows south from the Wylie dam at the Fort Mill Landing to various take-out points along a 26 mile stretch to the Landsford Canals.

This river moves pretty steadily around 4 mph with moderate paddling at all points. It’s a wide, easy river at most points within our local stretch of river from the Dam to Riverwalk and River Park. There are a few rock gardens below River Park through Upper Landsford Access. Landsford Canal State Park is the most challenging paddle with Class I and Class II rolling rapids along a shallow rock garden.

Water levels along this part of the Catawba are dependent on water releases from the Lake Wylie Dam. There are scheduled recreational releases Fri-Sun from April to September.
You can find the flow release schedule here.

To check water levels on a given day, please go here.

Between 600 and 2000 cfs the water level is considered lower than normal. It’s still navigable,  but there will be exposed rocks in shallow areas. Between 2000 and 5000 cfs is considered the optimal level for paddling the Catawba in this section. Over 6000 cfs indicates a strong current and is recommended only for experienced paddlers. If we determine that water levels are too dangerous we will cancel your trip and refund your payment.

Payment required in advance. PAYMENT = RESERVATION!

 

YOUTH = UNDER 18 YRS + UNDER 150 LBS

TOUR LOCATION: FORT MILL DAM TO RIVERWALK IN ROCK HILL

DURATION: approximately 1.5 to 3 hours depending on water flow.

SKILL LEVEL: Moderate

DISTANCE: 3.5 miles

PRICING: $45 for youth; $65 for adult ; $120 for tandem. Singles incur $25 surcharge.

TOUR LOCATION: FORT MILL DAM TO RIVER PARK IN ROCK HILL

DURATION: approximately 3 to 5 hours depending on water flow.

SKILL LEVEL: Moderate

DISTANCE: 6.4 miles

PRICING: $65 for youth, $85 for adult, $150 for tandem. Singles incur $35 surcharge.

TOUR LOCATION: ALLISON CREEK PADDLE - we recommend SUNSET for a beautiful adventure! Explore an accessible but serene portion of Lake Wylie! Lots of wildlife and easy, fun paddling. Great for couples!
DURATION: 2 hours

SKILL LEVEL: Beginners

DISTANCE: 1.5 miles
PRICING: $35 for each child under 150 lbs on our youth sit-on-top kayaks; $55 for each adult in one of our solo cockpitted recreational kayaks; $100 for two adults in our sit-on-top tandem kayak. Singles incur $20 surcharge.

TOUR LOCATION: LANDSFORD CANAL STATE PARK

DISTANCE: 1.5 miles

SKILL LEVEL: Moderate to Experienced
DURATION: 1-3 hours
Class I - Class II rapids
PRICING: $65 for each child under 150 lbs on our youth sit-on-top kayaks; $85 for each adult in one of our solo cockpitted recreational kayaks; $150 for two adults in our sit-on-top tandem kayak. Single incurs $40 surcharge.


This paddle puts in at the Landsford Canal State Park upper landing and takes out at the lower landing in the same park. See below for more on the seasonal SPIDER LILY TOURS offered in May/June!

Optimal water flows for this area are around 2000 to 3000 cfs. Anything less than 1500 cfs can be shallow and expose a lot of rocky shoals; anything over 4000 should only be paddled by experienced paddlers.

LIABILITY WAIVER

Please review and sign our liability waiver as a requirement before setting out on the tour. Please follow the following URL to do so https://playpass.com/go/WsgSkhD

Paper forms also available on the day for signature.
 

KAYAK INSTRUCTION

Learn to paddle properly and you will enjoy a lifetime of glorious exercise and adventure. Billy has over 30 years experience in all classes of water teaching paddling technique and river safety. With his guidance you'll be having fun on the water in no time!

DURATION: 3 hours

SKILL LEVEL: any

LOCATION: to be determined based on the needs of your group. Lake Wylie and the paddle from the Fort Mill Dam to the Pumphouse at Riverwalk are our best suggestions.

PRICING: $65 for youth; $85 for adults

Thank you for supporting our local Mom & Pop business!!

 

Call or text 803-616-1568 or email info@optimisttraining.com for schedule and booking.

 

We prefer cash, Venmo, Paypal, or Zelle as payment but also can accept credit cards with an additional 3.5% processing fee. Payment made at the time of reservation.

OUR FLEET:

4 sit-on-top 6' Pelican kids kayaks - 100 lb capacity
2 sit-on-top 5.5’ Lifetime kids kayaks - 130 lb capacity

6 sit-on-top Lifetime Recruit Youth Kayaks - 150 lb capacity

2 cockpit 9'8" Lifetime Payette Kayaks - 250 lb capacity
2 cockpit 8.6’ Clearwater Affinity kayaks - 295 lb capacity
1 cockpit 11’ Perception Rhythm kayak - 275 lb capacity
1 cockpit 10’ LiquidLogic Tuxedo kayak - 300 lb capacity

1 cockpit 9'8" Perception Swifty kayak - 300 lb capacity

1 cockpit 9'5" Perception Swifty Sport kayak - 325 lb capacity

1 cockpit 9'5" Perception Sparky kayak - 350 lb capacity

1 cockpit 9'5" Old Town Otter kayak - 250 lb capacity

1 cockpit 12’ Patriot kayak - 400 lb capacity
1 sit-on-top 12’ Equinox kayak - 420 lb capacity
1 sit-on-top 13’ Wilderness System Tarpon Tandem kayak - 550 lb apacity
1 15’ Old Town Discovery Canoe - 1650 lb capacity

FOR PICTURES OF OUR FLEET GO HERE AND SCROLL DOWN

Due to our limited fleet, rentals are dependent on availability. Please call or text 803-616-1568 or email info@optimisttraining.com for reservations and pricing.

MEDICAL CONCERNS
If you have any concerns about a medical condition that you have, consult your physician before participating. Moderate physical activity required. Our guides are not qualified to determine whether you should be paddling with a bad back, heart condition, tennis elbow, pregnancy, etc.  Optimist Training LLC, it's employees, subcontractors and property owners of locations of tours are not responsible for any damage or injury to person or property. You will be advised of any potentially dangerous conditions for your tour locations and given the opportunity to cancel and leave. Cancellation at site will receive 50% refund.

Outdoor adventures in South Carolina have a variety of risks such as wildlife encounters with insects, snakes, reptiles, alligators, fish, poisonous plants, slippery and wet terrain. If you do not feel comfortable with assuming these risks please do not participate. Feel free to contact us if you have any concerns prior to making your reservation.

SAFETY INFORMATION
Each individual is responsible for their own safety while participating in any of our planned activities. Many outdoor activities have some level of inherent danger. We help you avoid dangerous situations but cannot guarantee your safety. You will be given safety information for the specific activity and will be asked to sign a waiver of liability prior to participation. If you bring a child that is not yours, please have their parent or legal guardian sign the liability waiver. Optimist Training LLC, it's employees and subcontractors are not liable for participants safety, well being or personal property.


LIABILITY WAIVER
Please review and sign our liability waiver as a requirement before setting out on the tour.
Please follow the following URL to do so https://playpass.com/go/WsgSkhD

 

Paper forms also available on the day for signature.


CANCELLATION POLICY
YOUR CANCELLATION MUST BE MADE AT LEAST 72 HOURS IN ADVANCE FOR A FULL REFUND.

Less than 72hr notice will be charged a 50% cancellation fee. No show, no call, no refund. We may cancel tours at our discretion with no charge to you in the event of bad weather or other circumstances. Safety is our first concern! In the event we have to cancel an activity you will be offered to reschedule or receive a full refund for any money paid for participation.

NO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS ALLOWED
We will not allow impaired individuals on our tours for legal and safety reasons. Our guides reserve the right to refuse service to individuals who they deem not safe to participate for any reason, safety is our priority!

NO FEEDING OR HANDLING WILDLIFE
Feeding, harassing or handling wildlife is strictly prohibited and poses great safety risks to both people and wildlife.

NO LITTERING 

We practice Leave No Trace Ethics and ask all our guests to respect the places they are visiting and carry out all litter.

Kayak Stack
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Spider Lilies

Spider Lilies are extremely rare and bloom for a month or two a year on rocky shoals only in three places on the planet, one of them being on the Catawba River at Landsford Canal State Park in Lancaster, SC. We are pleased to offer the opportunity to paddle among thousands of these majestic flowers.

Conditions on this part of the river are mostly shallow with rocky outcroppings and small Class I & Class II rapids throughout the area. Experienced paddlers will thoroughly enjoy the adventure; we suggest newbies be prepared for a moderate level of physicality. With this in mind, we offer rentals as well as the option for a guided tour. Our intrepid owner and master paddler Billy Wilken has over 30 years of experience, is certified in whitewater rescue, knows the area and can provide technical instruction, guidance, safety and support if desired. With his expertise, seasoned paddlers and newbies alike enjoy a safe, fun and informative adventure!

Distance: 1.5 miles

Duration: 1-2 hours

LIMITED AVAILABILITY: The blooms begin in late April, are at their height around mid-May, and only stay through about mid to late June.

(The following dates are for guided tours and rental+shuttle. If you want to rent our boats from our office and transport them yourself, we may be able to accommodate you on other days.)

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE DATES AND TIMES:

We're now looking ahead to 2023! Early May through mid-June. All tours, rentals and shuttles are BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.

PRICES:

GUIDED TOUR: $65 for our youth sit-on-top kayaks, $85 for adult cockpitted kayaks, $160 for our sit-on-top tandem kayak.

RENTALS ONLY: $45 for youth sit-on-top, $55 for adult cockpitted ($35 surcharge for single), $95 for tandem sit-on-top or canoe. (Must profess experience in paddling to take on the river amidst these rocky shoals without a guide.)

SHUTTLE ONLY:

$50 + $5 per boat UNLESS we are already at Landsford with other rentals and tours, in which case we'll honor our regular $15 per trip + $5 per boat fee. Just check in with us to find out.

Email info@optimisttraining.com or call or text 803-616-1568 to reserve. Payment required for confirmation. We prefer Venmo @Optimist-Training but also accept cash, Zelle and Paypal. Credit cards incur an additional 3.5% processing fee.