Best Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing in North Carolina

This list represents the most popular whitewater kayaking & canoeing in North Carolina. Use this list to plan your next North Carolina whitewater kayaking & canoeing trip. Select a state and/or activity below to find even more top trails.

Learn more about Top Trails

#1. Dan River


The Dan River begins near the Blue Ridge Parkway a few miles above Meadows of Dan, Virginia. It is impounded by Talbott Reservoir and its water used by the Pinnacles Hydroelectric Plant in Kibler Vall…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Madison, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 105.9 miles BestWhitewater Kayaking & Canoeing Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Pocosin Press

#2. Mayo River


The North Mayo River watershed begins below Fairy Stone State Park, northwest of Martinsville, Virginia. The South Mayo River watershed begins northwest of Stuart, Virginia near the Dan River. The N…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Mayodan, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 18.1 miles BestWhitewater Kayaking & Canoeing Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Pocosin Press

#3. Ararat River


The Ararat River begins just above the North Carolina border in Patrick County, Virginia. It flows through Mount Airy and comes within 3 miles of the majestic pinnacle of Pilot Mountain on its way to…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Ararat, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 24.6 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#4. Haw River


The Haw River is popular for paddling because of its variety of scenery, whitewater, and proximity to the Triangle and Triad population centers. Many rivers are dangerous during high water levels, but…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Graham, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 46.5 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#5. Nantahala River: CR 1310 (Gravel Road Turnout 4.2 Miles Above Forest Service Put-In) to Wesser


The Nantahala heads up just inside the edge of Nantahala National Forest before entering Nantahala Lake, reportedly the highest lake in North Carolina. From there some water is piped down the mountain…
From the guidebook "Carolina Whitewater: A Paddler's Guide to the Western Carolinas"
Murphy, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 12.2 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#6. Rocky River Between Locust and Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge


The Rocky River begins north of Charlotte near Mooresville. It flows southeast before swinging toward the east to join the Pee Dee River below Lake Tillery. It drains a watershed of about 1,500 square…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Aquadale, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 50.3 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#7. South Toe River: Carolina Hemlocks Campground or NC 80 Bridge to Yancey CR 1311 on the Toe


The South Toe has its headwaters on Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Rockies (elevation 6,684 feet), which is south from the put-in. It is a delightful stream winding through the mountains…
From the guidebook "Carolina Whitewater: A Paddler's Guide to the Western Carolinas"
Newdale, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 22.5 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#8. Big Laurel Creek: US 70/25 Bridge to US 70/25 Bridge over the French Broad in Hot Springs


This is a fast wild-water stream cutting a gorge 1,200 feet deep between Mill Ridge on the north and Walnut Knob on the south. This is truly a spectacular scenic run. Unfortunately, as with many trips…
From the guidebook "Carolina Whitewater: A Paddler's Guide to the Western Carolinas"
Hot Springs, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 4 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#9. Uwharrie River


The Uwharrie River begins in northwest Randolph County below High Point. It flows south and passes 10 miles west of Asheboro. Several miles southwest of Asheboro, the river enters Uwharrie National Fo…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
High Point, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 29.1 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#10. Rocky River Between Siler City and Moncure


The Rocky River begins near Liberty and is impounded for use as a Siler City water supply. It flows southeast, and after crossing US 64 it does not pass near any towns before joining the Deep River, 4…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Siler City, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 31 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#11. Upper Little River


The Upper Little River watershed begins in Lee County on the southeast side of Sanford. It flows southeast through agricultural land. Before joining the Cape Fear River near Erwin, it has rock ledges,…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Erwin, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 6.9 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#12. Raven Fork River: Confluence with the Straight Fork to The Bridge at the Job Corps Center


The Raven Fork comes off Breakneck Ridge, often at just that speed. It flows through the Cherokee Indian Reservation to a point just above the town of Cherokee, where it joins the Oconaluftee River.…
From the guidebook "Carolina Whitewater: A Paddler's Guide to the Western Carolinas"
Sylva, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 8 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#13. Boone Fork: Julian Price Memorial Park to CR 1557 Bridge


The Boone Fork rises as a tiny tributary falling off the eastern flank of Grandfather Mountain and then flows a few miles before being backed up by Price Lake. Price Lake is small and man-made with a…
From the guidebook "Carolina Whitewater: A Paddler's Guide to the Western Carolinas"
Boone, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 4.5 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#14. Elk Creek


Elk Creek begins at an elevation of 3,200 feet in Watauga County, east of Boone, on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the opposite side of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the watershed of t…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Darby, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 8.5 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#15. Uwharrie River: NC 49 Bridge to Morrow Mountain State Park, Directly Across Lake Tillery from the Mouth of the Uwharrie


The Uwharrie heads up west of Asheboro and flows generally south through the Uwharrie Mountains and across portions of the Uwharrie National Forest before it flows into Lake Tillery. The river meander…
From the guidebook "Carolina Whitewater: A Paddler's Guide to the Western Carolinas"
Ophir, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 36.4 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#16. Fisher River


The Fisher River watershed begins at an elevation above 2,500 feet on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near where the Blue Ridge Parkway enters Virginia. It flows southeast, takes a m…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Stony Knoll, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 20.7 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#17. Green River: Lake Summit Dam to NC 1004 on the Broad River


The Green River has its origins southwest of Tuxedo where it runs quietly for several miles before its inundation at Lake Summit. The Saluda Mountains are the southern border of this upper section.…
From the guidebook "Carolina Whitewater: A Paddler's Guide to the Western Carolinas"
Saluda, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 41.4 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#18. Little River (near Durham)


Little River is one of the most common river names, and two are in the Neuse Basin. The largest Little River in the upper Neuse Basin joins the Neuse near Goldsboro. The Little River described here be…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Bahama, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 5 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#19. New Hope Creek


New Hope Creek begins about 5 miles south of Hillsborough. It flows generally eastward toward Durham and winds through Duke Forest, a research forest owned by Duke University. The terrain is rolling,…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Chapel Hill, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 4.9 miles
Published by Pocosin Press

#20. Buck Creek: Lake Tahoma Dam to US 70 Bridge


Buck Creek has its headwaters in the Mount Mitchell Wildlife Management Area below the Blue Ridge Parkway. It flows along NC 80 into Lake Tahoma. Above the lake it is a small, fast-dropping stream, wh…
From the guidebook "Carolina Whitewater: A Paddler's Guide to the Western Carolinas"
Marion, NC - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - 3.2 miles
Published by Menasha Ridge Press