Considering Contentnea Creek runs 100 miles, from northeast of Raleigh to the Neuse River in Craven County, it’s a surprisingly well-kept paddle secret. This despite the fact it has its own canoe club — the Contentnea Creek Paddle Club — and warrants 10 pages of coverage in Paul Ferguson’s “Paddling Eastern North Carolina.” And, in the words of the decidedly biased and aforementioned Contentnea Creek Paddle Club, “You will be hard-pressed to find as beautiful and remote-feeling a stream with such easy access and solitude.”

Despite the fact Contentnea meanders through generally agriculturally rich eastern North Carolina, the creek’s passage through wetlands keeps it separated from modern day corporate ag operations. Trees often crowd the banks — and toward its conclusion before joining forces with the Neuse, those trees become stately cypress. Section 4, the stretch we single out for recognition, is noted for its remoteness and the islands that often subdivide the river into intimate channels.

A pleasing paddle near both the Triangle and Greenville.

More info and maps: “Paddling Eastern North Carolina,” by Paul Ferguson or check here.

Getting there: From US 264 south of Wilson, go south on Black Creek Road, then take a left on Frank Price Church Road. Take a left on Evansdale Road, to the access. Map here.

Access and shuttle

contentnea creek

Difficulty: Easy
Length: Stretches vary from 6 to nearly 11 miles; Section 4 (“Paddling Eastern North Carolina”), described below, is 10.3 miles
Time to complete: 2-5 hours
Location: Neuse River Basin, from northeast of the Triangle to near Fort Barnwell in Craven County.
City: Stantonsville
State: N.C.
Zip: 27883
Put-in latitude: 35 38.595
Put-in longitude: -77 53.376