Saturday, July 18, 2009

Neuse River Day Trip


Today we took a trip down the Neuse River in the kayaks - the first time on the river with the new boats, and the first time off of flat water. Ashley, in her yet-to-be-named pink boat, and I, in the trusty "Cooper II," set off right below the Falls Dam at the south end of Falls Lake for an eleven-mile paddle. We were excited to go and expecting good things - the weather was fantastic, low humidity and such, and with the rain last night the river looked to be sufficiently high and swift enough to avoid bottoming out. As we were told by the guys at Paddle Creek (the kayak/canoe shop across from the dam, who frequently lead tours), "bro, the river is at like 250 right now!" We have no clue what this meant, but with such enthusiasm it had to be good.


Luckily, the excitable canoe guide was right - the river was running clear, and for the most part, moving at a decent pace and depth. There were a few shallow spots (the Neuse doesn't really widen up until you get closer to the coast), a good amount of logs, and a few small rapids. Although there's certainly no whitewater, there are enough obstacles in the water to keep things interesting. FYI, here is the rating system for river/rapid difficulty.

As I stated above, we did an 11-mile section of the Neuse, which is easily accessible from City of Raleigh launches, and about as far as you can go in Wake Co. without portaging around a dam. Unfortunately, we don't have many pictures because we don't have a waterproof camera, and aren't too quick getting the camera we do have out of a dry bin. We did see several blue herons and some larger raptors - hawks, ospreys, and what looked like a falcon (though I doubt that's what it was). There are a few old pumping stations, abandoned since the construction of new water system intake pipes and treatment plants, and several storm runoff lines flowing in - though the river is visually clean.

The City of Raleigh maintains the paddle launches (quite well, by the way), and their map and website are here. Next, we'll probably try out the Eno River (near Durham) and South Fork River (near McAdenville).

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