Discovering a Gem at Home!
College friends Carl Boland and Chris
four days and three nights on the river and learned something new:
the Roanoke River is a real gem! Read these two short trip logs from
Chris and I have known each other for
about eight years, first meeting in an English class at UNC. We both
share a love of the outdoors and outdoor adventure. Together, we
have backpacked throughout Western NC and SW Virginia, and paddled
the Everglades, Suwannee River (in GA and FL), the French Broad
River, and now the Roanoke.
We spent three nights/four days on the river, camping at Barred Owl
Roost, Cow Creek, and Otter One. I have been interested in this
adventure ever since I first learned of the experience through a
couple of friends who paddled the river about 6 years ago. They
spoke highly of their experience, by comparing the much larger,
nicer, and better designed platforms of the Roanoke to those of the
Everglades - called chickees. Further, they spoke of the "blackwater
experience" and unique habitats right here in our own state.
As Chris finished Dental school at UNC and I had a few weeks off
between terms at Wake Forest, I decided now was the time and easily
talked Chris into joining me. Early May seemed like an ideal time -
before it was too hot and too buggy, yet still warm and comfortable.
Our experience was as advertised! The Roanoke offers a unique
paddling experience right here in our own backyard - A chance to
find solitude and experience a very distinct ecosystem first hand.
The cypress swamps were my favorite and the reflection of the
ancient giants on the black, cola colored water was captivating.
Another plus is that the river and its tribuatires are easy to
navigate and offer plenty of opportuniities for both novice and
experienced paddlers. The platforms are well-spaced out,
well-marked, and easy to find. The platforms are spacious, more
private, and better designed (the eye bolts for tarps is my favorite
feature) than the chickees in the everglades. Being only two hours
from the Triangle, I will return sooner rather than later. I look
forward to comparing the experiences of paddling the river in all
For a few nights in May, my friend
Carl and I took a canoe trip on the Roanoke River in Eastern North
Carolina. We had taken canoe trips together in the past, but this
will certainly be a memorable one. It was our last trip together
before my move up to western Alaska to work for a native hospital.
Carl and I pulled out of Chapel Hill on a Tuesday morning to meet up
with Carol Shields and Lucia Peele to begin our trip. We were
greeted at Lucia's bed and breakfast, where we borrowed a canoe and
set off for the put-in. We dropped the canoe and I sorted gear,
while Carl went down river to drop a car. We had an easy paddle in
the first night. The dark stained water was calm and we made our way
back up a cypress swamp to a nice platform - Barred Owl, I think. We
fished and cooked dinner and enjoyed the evening, just like old
times. It was good to be back out on the river together. Our next
two days were longer paddles, but enjoyable. We saw many wildlife
species, different landscapes, and different platforms. It was a
well-rounded view of Eastern North Carolina river banks - from
cypress, to fields, to cut timber, to towns. Our last day was an
easy out paddle, before heading back to Chapel Hill. I enjoyed this
trip and the scenery and the platforms, and the entire time I
thought to myself, "I wish I had known about this place the last
eight years I've been in Chapel Hill." I had heard of the Roanoke
River, and that people paddled it, but I had no idea how much of a
gem I had a few hours away from school. It very well may be one of
the best kept secrets in North Carolina. I look forward to the day
when I have time to come back to North Carolina and paddle some more
on the Roanoke. Until then, I will bide my time paddling the tundra
rivers up here.
Roanoke River Partners (RRP) is an independent
501(c)(3) non-profit group of organizations & individuals formed to
create a positive, healthy vision and future for the historic
communities that reside throughout the
region - the Roanoke River, Albemarle Sound and their communities.