Haw River, Section 8

The most popular whitewater run in the Triangle and the go-to place for intro classes.

The stretch is popular for several reasons. For one, when water levels in the region start to drop it’s one of the last true whitewater stretches you can still run. It’s good for beginners because there’s a good mile of nerve-settling flatwater before you hit your first rapid, a Class I. Good for beginners as well because this mix, of flatwater and frisky, continues for most of the run: challenge yourself, take a moment to regroup. Repeat.

More experienced paddlers will find something to keep them entertained as well. In part, that’s because the Haw, this section especially, is peppered with islands that create a variety of passages — and challenges. Even if you think you know this stretch intimately, there’s always the chance you’ll be surprised by a new channel to explore.

For a complete description, including hazards, consult “Paddling Eastern North Carolina” (see below).

More info, including maps and access: “Paddling Eastern North Carolina,” Paul Ferguson (2007, Pocosin Press).

Getting to the put-in from downtown Chapel Hill

Photo: A stretch of Section 8 of the Haw where the river braids around a mid-river island.

Rating: Class I-II
Length: 6.7 miles
Drive: 25 minutes from downtown
Put-in: Chicken Bridge Road
Latitude: 35.5002
Longitude: 79.1328
Take-out: US 15/501 access
Latitude: 35.4665
Longitude: 79.0881
Time to complete: 2-3 hours
Gauge: USGS Haw River near Bynum
Minimum flow: 200 cfs
City: Bynum
State: NC