Greetings adventurers! In today's post we take an amazing little kayaking trip down the White Oak River in Eastern North Carolina. This trip had a lot of impact on me - mainly because the White Oak is accessible in walking distance from my house. Since I paddle compact and back-packable Innova Kayaks, I can literally walk with all of my gear (including the boat), and paddle down the White Oak all the way to the sea. Check out part 1 of the journey - from Maysville to Long Point Landing located in the Croatan National Forest.
So yeah, that's a machete packed on top of an inflatable kayak. It's summer in the South after all and although my snake and gator karma has been pretty good, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. That's always been a big motivator for posting these mini adventures here - it's hard to find online info about a lot of these trips. One of the memorable posts I did find about paddling the White Oak didn't involve gators lurking below or snakes falling out of trees, but actually a bit of whitewater that could catch you off guard at the start of the paddle. Great...snakes, gators, and rapids?
I launched on a summer weekday morning from Maysville's White Oak River Campground. There is a small launch fee, bring a little cash (pay at the fee station near the pool table!). I found a spot to put in near the bridge. The river was moving fairly swift at this point - once you set off hold on and enjoy the current while you've got it!
As you begin, just after the campground, you'll quickly pass under an old bridge (different than the one pictured below). This is the quick bit of rapids I mentioned earlier. I followed the flow, kept my nose pointed in the right direction, and made a few hard paddles (and put on the paddle breaks a few times) to pass safely. If this worries you, it is possible to launch from one of the nearby Quarry Lakes.
It was helpful (but not completely necessary) to have a GPS as I passed through the winding Quarry Lakes. It doesn't have to be a fancy device - I use an old unconnected iPhone and Google Maps (smart phones have GPS built-in - it works whether you are online or off). Once you pass through the lakes, you'll be paddling one of most fun parts of the trip - a winding jungly route with decent current - as you head downriver to Dixon Field Landing.
Dixon Field Landing isn't a bad place to stop if you need to stretch your legs. There is a maintained primitive toilet and a parking lot. It is also possible to primitive camp here. Road access leads out to highway 58. Since I arrived here fairly quick, it only took about an hour and a half, I paddled on. After another 30 mins of paddling through the skinny jungle route (with a few blown down trees to carefully navigate), the river started opening up.
It took me a few hours after leaving Dixon Field to arrive at Haywood Landing. Here you'll find a well maintained boat ramp, a primitive toilet, and a parking lot. There are primitive camping spots downriver from here (not at the landing). I took a break, ate a snack, and stretched my legs.
Back in the water! It took only another hour to reach Long Point Landing, my stop for this leg of the trip. Long Point has another primitive toilet and primitive campground spots. I'd probably skip the camping here - it's the easiest to drive to from nearby highway 58 - thus gets a little more traffic than the other landings.
I clocked in a total of 4 hours and 45 mins on the river after launching from Maysville (see the timed travel log at the end of this post). It was a very doable paddle, the only tricky parts were the quick rapids at the start and navigating a few blown down trees around Dixon Landing (a launch from the Quarry Lakes would avoid the rapids completely). I loved the paddle from Maysville to Dixon Field - narrow and jungly. I saw zero snakes or gators, not bad for late July (they may have been watching me though - ha). In hindsight, it turns out that by stopping at Long Point Landing I was about halfway to my final destination - the beach at Emerald Isle. Stay tuned to the blog for the second part of this adventure as I paddle from Long Point to the sea!!!
Need someone to pick you and your boat up down river?
Check out: www.bearfootkayaks.com. They provide shuttle service for paddlers on the White Oak. Currently their shuttle service operates on weekends only. You park at your destination, they meet you there, and drive you and your gear upriver to a launch site. Expect to pay around $25 for the service depending on distance traveled. They're also a great resource for kayak rental if needed.