We're back with part 2 of my paddling adventure down the White Oak River in Eastern North Carolina (see part 1 here). Today's post is the second half of the trip, the first brought me from the town of Maysville in Jones County down the curvy, wooded route to Long Point Landing in Croatan National Forest. The regular summer flow of the river and some lazy paddling got me to Long Point in about 5 hours. Next stop: leg 2 - from Long Point to Emerald Isle and the sea!
Gone is the winding jungle paddle from leg 1 - now the river widens as we head from Long Point Landing downriver toward the town of Stella (and beyond to the beach at Emerald Isle). I noticed the tide change as upriver as my launch point, so checking out a tide chart for this section of the river is a good idea (especially near the end).
There's another launch point in Stella if you need it (there's a small fee). After this, it's under the bridge and out into the wide White Oak River mouth. You'll eventually pass by Jones Island (see our island post here) and just before the bridge is the town of Swansboro.
The paddle from the town of Stella to Bicentennial Park in Swansboro (pictured above) can really wear you out depending on the wind and tides. Staying closer to shore can help you avoid some of the wind and waves but definitely plan ahead and have some plan B options if you need to cut the day short. There's parking here at Bicentennial Park if you need it.
Heading out to Emerald Isle from Bicentennial Park means heading under the Highway 24 bridge - be careful - the current can be quick, there can be a little bit of powerboat traffic, and it can get really shallow depending on the tide. Once you're under, hang a left and cross the Intracoastal Waterway (watch out for boats). From here to the Emerald Isle you'll have multiple island beaches to stop and enjoy. If you play the tides right (I did:), you can paddle out to Emerald Isle from here in less than 30 mins!
Just like that - I made it from my house to the ocean! It took another 5 hours on this second leg from Long Point Landing to Emerald Isle. One more word of caution: be careful as you get close to Emerald Isle - a lot of water is pouring in and out between the Isle and Bear Island - watch for shallow spots.
Would I paddle it again? For sure. It was a blast. To leave Maysville in thick woods on a short, fast, winding river and end up on a salty, white, sandy beach is amazing. The challenging parts included the quick rapids near the Maysville launch, the long haul paddle from Stella to Swansboro, and potential tides and boat traffic in the last bit (from Swansboro to Emerald Isle). Total time for the whole trip (in July): around 10 hours. Snakes seen on the trip: 0. Alligators: 0. River otter: 1. Next step for me? Paddle the short section starting upriver from Maysville...stay tuned for my next adventure on the White Oak! ~Paul ETC
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.
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