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
Follow us on Twitter and receive updates when we post (click the birdie).