Quiet Water Paddling Trips in Eastern North Carolina
Nessie at Bear Island, Hammocks Beach State Park, North Carolina
Eastern North Carolina is a great place for kayaking. The rivers, lakes, and sea in the eastern part of the state provide paddling for all levels of expertise. There are short trips and multi day trips. All of them are beautiful.
Kayaks on Beach
Nessie at Hammocks Beach State Park Kayak Launch
There are several good books listing some of the better places to paddle. These include:
- Guide to Sea Kayaking in North Carolina by Pam Malec. Book is sub-titled Best Day Trips and Tours from Currituck to Cape Fear. It provides 35 trips along the coast of North Carolina. Suggestions for where to stay and eat are also provided. The trips are clearly described and are certainly well worth doing. We have done several of these trips and plan on doing more.
- Sea Kayaking the Carolinas by Jim Bannon. This is another great book that covers trips in the costal areas of both North and South Carolina. It provides a range of trips from short day trips to longer weekender trips. The book covers inland trips, for example Merchant's Mill Pond in NC, as well as trips along the coast. There is little overlap between this and the book above. It's worth owning both books.
- A Paddler's Guide to Eastern North Carolina by Bob Benner and Tom McCloud. This guide is devoted to trips on rivers and streams in the various river basins in North Carolina. Put in and take outs are suggested. The book provides short description of the sections of the rivers and streams that are suitable for kayaks and canoes. Because many of these trips require a shuttle, we haven't done may of them.
Some of the places we've found are discussed below. We plan to add to the list as time goes on. See the menu for all the places we've paddled in Easter NC.
Paddling Eastern NC
- Beaufort, NC 2009 Our 2009 paddle on Talyor Creek in Beaufort, NC. This is pretty much an annual event for us.
- Hammock Beach State Park (Bear Island). Hammock beach State Park is a great paddle. There are two paddle trails from the visitor's center-- one to Bear Island and one to Huggins Island. We took took the trail to Bear Island.
- Core Sound, NC. We drove up US 70 to put in on Core Sound this year. This was a new location for us. We had to cut the paddle short because a rain storm with a bit of lightening came up. We saw a flock of Canada Geese. We'll probably go back to this area in the future.
- Beaufort NC 2008 We paddle Taylor Creek in Beaufort, NC almost every summer when we go to the beach. This is a good paddle because the creek is usually protected from the wind, there are lots of birds to see, and of course there are the wild horses on Carott Island.
- Paddling Lake Mattamuskeet 2003Lake Mattamuskeet is a great place to paddle. It's the largest natural lake in North Carolina. It's also very shallow. The lake is home to thousands of birds in the winter, but is closed to boats from November to March. When we were there we saw lots of Osprey.
- Merchant's Millpond, NC 2003 Merchant's Millpond State Park is a great place to paddle. It is a serene beautiful place to paddle. Everyone should paddle it at least once.
- Merchant's Millpond, NC 2010. We returned to Merchant's Millpond in 2010 and found it was as wonderful as we remembered it. The state has added a new visitor's center that is well worth the visit.
- Goose Creek State Park, NC Paddling Goose Creek State Park in 2007 was part of our 2007 trip to see the Tundra Swans at Lake Mattamuskeet.
- Paddling Cedar Island Wildlife Refuge. This was a case of finding a boat ramp and taking off.
- Hammock Beach State Park, NC 2009 . This was the area where we were introduced to paddling in 2000. We revisited the place in 2009.
- Core Banks, NCA case of finding a NC Wildlife Commission boat ramp and paddling away. We've paddled this area several times and always find interesting birds. The wind can be a problem here.
- Newport River from Radio Island. Nice paddle that was opened up by completion of the new boat launch area on Radio Island at the foot of the bridge between Beaufort and Morehead City. The boat ramp opens up a large area of the Newport River.
We've found that we can find a good paddling spot almost anywhere on the North Carolina coast. We just look for a NC Wildlife sign and a boat ramp. Then we take Nessie off the top of the Minivan and paddle off to see what's there. We usually see lots of birds. When we get tired of paddling, we jump into the water and cool off. We find sand dollars and other interesting things in the water.
When you're paddling on the coast, you need to pay attention to wind and tide. If you go somewhere at high tide, you can find yourself out of water at low tide. You then have to get out of your kayak and drag it to water. Not the most fun way to travel.
Paddling against the tide and/or the wind can be a real chore. It can take all the fun out of a day's paddle. On windy days, you can often find sheltered places to paddle if you stop in at one of the many paddling stores and ask. You might have to drive a bit further than you planned. But you can still get in your paddle.