Only at the coast could you do a loop trail — on a river.

This 16-miler begins at the Davis Creek Estuarine Water Access Area on Cartwheel Branch. After just over a mile, hang a right at the Cape Fear River. At the four-mile mark the Northeast Cape Fear intersects; continue downstream and you’ll be paddling along the Wilmington waterfront —

Just a moment to ask, who among us hasn’t been eating at a waterfront restaurant in Wilmington, saw a kayak passing by and thought, “Man, I’d give up this softshell crab sandwich in a minute to swap places with that guy!” What the heck, throw in the fries as well. On this trip, you are that lucky guy.

At about the 8.5-mile mark you’ll pass the southern tip of Eagle Island and go right, up the Brunswick River on your return trip. Paddling upstream for the last 7.5 miles will be a whole lot easier if you plan your trip according to the tides; a little boost from an incoming tide will be greatly appreciated on a 16-mile day.

Keep an eye out for Cartwheel Branch at the 15-mile mark for your triumphant last mile to the finish.

More info


Getting there from downtown Wilmington
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
Distance: 15 minutes from downtown Wilmington
Time to complete: 6-16 miles
Address: Off Cedar Hill Road NE
City: Navasa
State: N.C.
Zip: 28451
Latitude: 34.1618
Longitude: 78.0000