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Quiet Water Kayak Paddling Trips in North Carolina

Nessie at Bear Island

North Carolina is a great place for kayaking. All the regions of the state have wonderful places to spend a bit of time paddling. There are opportunities for whitewater kayaking (not covered here but you can find information at Whitewater in NC. Our interest is quiet water kayaking. And we're lucky that there are many places in the state for that.

There are several good books listing some of the better places to paddle in Eastern North Carolina. These include:

I haven't found similar coverage for paddling in the rest of the state.

Some of the places we've found are discussed below. We plan to add to the list as time goes on.

Paddling Eastern North Carolina

Eastern North Carolina provides several different types of paddling. You can paddle in the sheltered areas along the coast. And if the weather is good, you can take some excursion over somewhat open waters, for example to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and other barrier islands. Many of these trips area covered in the books listed above. We often find that just driving along the coast and looking for boat launch spots can provide an excellent day of paddling.

One of the great things about paddling, is that it allows you to get up close to the birds and other wildlife you see.

Canada Geese
Floating Geese, Core Banks, NC
Two wild horses Carrot Island, NC
Wild Horses Carrot Island, Beaufort, NC

If the wind is up and paddling on the coast is not comfortable, you can move inland to sheltered lakes, rivers, and ponds. Merchant's Millpond, for example, is one of the best paddles you can find. The White Oak river provides some good paddling just off the coast.

So here is a small list of some of the places we've found and recommend.

Boats at Beaufort, NC

There are several paddle trails in Eastern North Carolina. Visit NC Coastal Plain Paddle Trails Guide and download the guide.

Paddling Western North Carolina

There is less information on quiet water kayaking in Western North Carolina then there is about Eastern North Carolina. We have spent considerable time paddling in the Western Part of North Carolina. Unfortunately, most of that time was before we we switched to digital photography. And I haven't gotten around to scanning our photos from many of those trips. We hope to get Nessie back to the Western North Carolina later this year (2011).

Lake Santeeltah
Lake Santeeltah

Didn't make it back until 2013 when we paddled Lake Santeeltah

Some of the places we have found but haven't written up yet include:

Below are a couple of the places we've been with pictures

Paddling the Middle of North Carolina

There are several good paddling places close by us in the middle of North Carolina. We've driven around to look at several of them and vowed to bring Nessie next time. But for some reason, we end up taking longer trips and neglecting our own backyard. Here are places we've found that provide a nice paddle.

I'll get some pictures scanned and posted soon. Maybe this weekend because the weather man is calling for rain. And we really need the rain, or there won't be much paddling in 2011.

Links for North Carolina Kayaking Information

Here are a few links for information on kayaking in North Carolina.

We've gotten into the habit of looking for NC Wildlife signs whenever we're traveling in NC. We then head off down the road to see if it leads to a place we want to paddle. So far we've found more places to paddle than we've found time for.

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission provides a guide to all the NC Wildlife boat ramps at Boater Guide. You can download the guide. Or you can view it online. The online version allows you to search for access point. For example, you can enter a zip code and find all the ramps within 25 miles. Pretty handy for finding ramps.