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Take-out: Wildlife boating access at Seven Springs, NC (Whitehall Bridge/Main Street).
My buddy Gary drove down the morning of Saturday, October 20, 2007, and we set off for a trip on the Neuse River. Gauge for that morning read 2.46 ft/213 cfs (USGS 02089000 Neuse River Near Goldsboro) meaning that the water was low due to the ongoing drought conditions. Nevertheless, we planned to paddle the 14.9 miles of these two sections and enjoy being outside and on the river. We each packed a lunch and water, loaded up the Pelican Excursion 146 DLX, and launched from the put-in at about 10:00am (after a half-hour shuttle to get the truck to the take-out—thanks to my wife!).
Except for a couple of canoe-floating hunters, we had the river to ourselves and it was a beautiful day (high about 75F, sunny, little wind). In the first section (upstream of the NC-111 bridge) there were several times where we had to get out to float the canoe off of sandbars due to the low water levels (this also happened once downstream from the bridge, but by that time we had gotten better at reading where the channel was located).
Upstream of the NC-111 bridge there were many downed trees along the river’s edge which had caught a good bit of floating garbage and Gary and I decided to be sure to include garbage bags on the list of things to bring on future trips. The first section also tended to be wider and slower moving (thus, the more numerous sandbars). Water clarity was excellent and we could usually see the riverbed even in the holes that were less than 7 or 8 feet deep. Because of this, we saw lots of schools of fish during the trip. I think most of them were striped bass and shad and most were of a size that the angler in me yearned for my flyrod and some flies. In the slower sections and pools we saw sizeable gar (2’ to 3’) and carp (1.5’ to 2’).
We stopped at the NC-111 bridge for lunch while we called our wives to let them know our progress (this was about 12:30pm) and watched more schools of fish swim upstream. After some sandwiches, hot tea, and a stretch of the legs we evicted a colony of ants which had decided out canoe made a decent home and resumed out trip down river.
In the second section we saw fewer sandbars and less garbage in the river and more wildlife and fish. Kingfishers were everywhere along our route and hawks and buzzards took turns soaring the skies above us. We also saw some deer coming to the river to drink in the mid-afternoon (two does). The Cliffs of the Neuse reared up on the right bank and was quite impressive, although I think a trip later in the fall/winter will be nice because much of the cliffs were hidden behind the foliage of the trees. We did not stop by the park this trip, but both of us had visited the interpretational center there in the past. Seeing those cliffs and realizing that they were once almost three times as tall makes one feel small (as being in nature should do sometimes).
After the cliffs, it was pretty much a straight course down to Seven Springs and our take-out. We pulled out of the river at about 4:00pm and had covered 14.9 miles of river in 6 hours with a short break for lunch.
It was a great day on the river and we’ll do it again sometime soon. Sorry about not having any pictures from this trip—the batteries in the digital camera were completely dead (a fact we did not discover until we’d been on the river for half an hour.
Total elapsed time (including drive and shuttle): 7 1/2 hours.
For the take out from the put-in access site, turn right out of the access site onto NC-581 and take it to the junction with NC-111 (there is a light at that intersection). Turn right on NC-111 and take this highway south until you reach Indian Springs Road (you will have crossed the bridge where we stopped for lunch on this trip as well as the entrance for Cliffs of the Neuse State Park). Turn east (left) on Indian Springs Road and continue down this road for about 2 miles until it dead ends into NC-55. Turn east (left) on NC-55 and go approximately 1 mile to Main Street in Seven Springs and turn north (left). Whitehall Bridge crosses the Neuse and the Wildlife boating access site is on the downstream (right) side at the base of the bridge.
For maps, I used the following USGS topographical maps: Southeast Goldsboro, Williams, Seven Springs.
The NC Atlas and Gazetteer is also a handy reference.
Recreational Kayak Paddle