We thought we'd take one more little paddle on our quick-trip to the coast North Carolina last Fall- a visit to the quaint little town of Beaufort. First of all, this ain't no South Carolinian town of Beaufort (bew-fert)…this here is Beaufort (boh-fert - soft -t at the end there). Glad we cleared that up.
Beaufort is a scenic, quiet, & friendly seaport village near the southern section of the Outer Banks. From our point of view it is perfect - cute small town with nice restaurants and places to explore on foot, cool history, and some great paddling nearby. The town's Front street is just across a skinny waterway (Taylor Creek) with the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve on the other side - an awesome sanctuary to explore by kayak (wild ponies anyone?).
Added bonus: the town was once upon a time a hangout for some special guests…pirates. Blackbeard had been to the town and although he wasn't that impressed back in the 18th century, his beloved ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, grounded & eventually sank near Beaufort. They recently found her & the Maritime Museum in Beaufort gets first dibs on all of the artifacts being resurrected from the sea. Arrr.
You get a taste of the history of this place when you check out the Beaufort Historic Site. Located right in the middle of the historic part of town, the site has several historic buildings/houses to explore. Gorgeous stuff.
There's lots of other places to check out in town - we stopped by the Beaufort Coffee Shop (Cru Bar & Coffee Shop) for a cup of Joe. When you're on the road in the South and you hear the sound of a real espresso machine you go there...we're from Seattle after all! We also strolled the General Store & Taylor's Creek Antiques.
While walking along the waterfront in town you'll notice signs for the Rachel Carson Reserve - just across the Creek.
After exploring town we finally drove down a few minutes to a nice boat launch. We launched from the Beaufort boating access ramp on Lennoxville Road. There was a parking lot and it turned out to be a great place to set off. We paddled against the current eastward (which felt like northward), out past the end of Carrot Island. The current was pretty swift here. Without too much planning, we always paddle against the current first - that way it's an easy ride back (you don't want to try it the other way around!).
As you paddle, there are great beach houses and nice boats to check out on the mainland side, and pretty wildlife scenes from the reserve on the other. A reserve boardwalk, pictured below, is right across the creek from the boat launch. Taking it gives you views of the other side of the island.
The put-in is also right next to The Boathouse & Front Street Village - a future residential area with boat storage, marina, boat fuel, groceries, and more. There is a lot planned for this area, check out more here. For us, it was a great place to grab a snack after our paddle & check out the old fishing net wheel, left over from when this was once part of Beaufort Fisheries.
Do we recommend a visit to Beaufort? For sure. Great paddling and a quaint, historic town…perfect! Just don't call it Bew-fert.
~Paul & Amber ETC
Looking to kayak in New Bern, North Carolina? In our last post from the East Coast we launched from the opposite side of the Neuse River, away from town. However, if you're in downtown New Bern and feel the urge for a quick paddle just stroll over to Union Point Park. There's a boat ramp for bigger boats just around the corner, plenty of waterfront to enjoy, lots of parking, and a wooden dock to launch your kayak from.
The Neuse River flows pretty slow here and without wind it's pretty glassy. Just up from the park is a nice little waterfront area called Skipjack Landing. There's a restaurant called Persimmons with a great outdoor seating area and gorgeous views of the river. Next-door/across the street is the Galley Marina & Store, a full service marina and grocery with all kinds of yummies and daily specials. The only negative for paddlers - the marina doesn't technically have a place to put in a kayak. You could probably unofficially launch from here without being bothered (we call it a rogue-launch:), but it's just as easy to launch from nearby Union Point Park.
If you keep exploring you'll discover more of the town - beautiful architecture, moss covered oak trees, great historic buildings like the amazing Tryon Palace, quaint bed & breakfasts - we love the Hanna House, and a tasty little delicatessen - the Pollock Street Delicatessen. New Bern is super-ultra-totally-amazingly-quaint…and more importantly, close to the water with access to Union Point Park and a gorgeous paddle on the river.
~Paul & Amber ETC
I took a quick trip to North Carolina back in September - with my kayak in the carry-on of course - and with only a few days to explore. If you haven't been to North Carolina, I like to think of it as a combination of Missouri (where I'm originally from) and Florida (where my wife's from). Woods, beaches, country-folk, a few big cities, farms, and most importantly, lots of paddle-able water.
Captain wifey's family lives near the town of New Bern. It's located at the end of the Neuse River, right where the river meets up with the Trent River and they both empty into the Pamlico Sound (which eventually leads to the Atlantic ocean). New Bern's a charming little town - we actually got married here - call it a truce between the Midwest & South Florida.
Our first order of business was to get our kayak in the water. We launched on the very end of the Neuse River from the Bridgeton Boating Area ramp on wildlife road - across the water from New Bern and just off US highway 17. It has a well-maintained dock/boat ramp/parking-lot. The dock was a little high (as usual) for launching a kayak, but we made it work (as usual). The river here was slow moving if moving at all - we paddled up and downriver against no noticeable current.
It's been awhile since I paddled on the East Coast. In photographer language this means I took way too many pictures. Every stick in the mud looks gorgeous. The textures are so different from my usual paddles here in the Northwest…I tried my best not to take too many pictures but failed…I got home with lots of pictures of sticks & mud (many I deleted).
We saw plenty of crankies and a few bald eagles on our paddle - which we are super used to seeing in the NW - "Oh look honey, another bald eagle". We also had a very interesting fish jumping sequence where we were surrounded by a large school of decent size fish, all jumping out of the water at the same time for some reason (expect to see video soon on our video page).
All & all, a nice little paddle on the amazing Neuse river. A little research revels that the Neuse is the longest river that is entirely in the state of North Carolina. It was once inhabited by (and named after) a Native American tribe called the Neusiok. Many other tribes once lived in this area of North Carolina too, including the Secotan, Weapomeoc, Coree, & the Tuscarora. The river begins North of Raleigh, near Falls Lake. It is about 275 miles long (with about 200 paddle-able miles below the lake and out to the Pamlico Sound), with the widest parts near the end at New Bern.
The river has seen better days as far as water quality goes - it turns out that factories and farms dumping who knows what into the river over the years is complicating things. Be sure to check out what the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation is doing to help protect this American waterway.
So, now it's time to pop the big question…not that question - remember, wifey and I already tied-the-knot here in New Bern a few years ago! Is there a longer Neuse River paddle in our future? Maybe all 200 miles? We hope so. Until then I will paddle vicariously through the many links I have provided below…
~Paul, Amber, Anna ETC
For more info, check these please…do it.
1. A great video from Source to Sea, a retired? blogger who paddled the whole thing - it took him 9 days!
2. Sierra Club Trails post with info about Neuse River put-ins.
3. An informative (yet dated) brochure on Neuse River Recreation Area campground.
4. An interactive user-created Google Neuse River paddle map…this thing is sweet.
5. Another paddle map used by the paddler from #1 on this list.
6. The Neuse River section from the Source to Sea website.
7. Boating in North Carolina official stuff.
8. Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation
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