The headwaters of Contentnea Creek begin north of Zebulon. The creek spends a little time in Buckhorn Reservoir, emerges officially as Contentnea Creek, spends a little more time in a reservoir (Wiggins Mills) then heads southeast before emptying into the Neuse River. Along the way, Paul Ferguson in his “Paddling Eastern North Carolina” identifies 11 sections, including a couple early on with some whitewater. Predictably, the creek mimics its surroundings, starting out Piedmont, ending coastal, complete with black water and cypress. It’s hard to go wrong on Contentnea Creek.
Below Wilson there are several scenic, mellow stretches in the 10-mile range. The farther downstream you get, the more Contentnea Creek resembles a blackwater paddle. Convenient to Greenville is Section 5, which offers a scenic 10.6-mile paddle beginning in Stantonsburg at the crossing of NC 222/111 and meandering downstream to the takeout at Speights Bridge Road. Like much of the stretch below Wilson, this section travels through undeveloped countryside. Occasional peeks at farmland are visible through the river birch and sycamores lining the creek.
Easy paddling with easy access make Section 5 a good starter run for the paddler new to Contentnea Creek
Maps: Paul Ferguson’s “Paddling Eastern North Carolina” guidebook, Pocosin Press.
Getting there from downtown Greenville
Distance: 40 minutes from downtown Greenville
Time to complete: 4-5 hours
Address: Contentnea Creek at NC 222/111