This may be one of the only whitewater runs you do that also spends time in a swamp. Only on the cusp of the Coastal Plain.

Just below where Contentnea Creek flows out of Buckhorn Reservoir you encounter your first friskiness: several Class I rapids over gravel bars (though only at low flows, says Paul Ferguson of “Paddling Eastern North Carolina” fame; see below).

Passage is tight until a creek spills in from river right. Then, about 4 1/2 miles in Ferguson cautions, there’s a six-foot drop over a 40-foot stretch as a result of a broken mill dam. “It is Class II+ rapid at good flows, but rough edges of the debris are hazardous if one swims here.”

As you near the take-out Contentnea’s complexion changes as you enter Little Swamp for a mellow finish.

For a complete description of this stretch, 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 there from downtown Greenville


Rating: (Class I and one II+)
Length: 7.1 miles
Drive: 50 minutes from downtown
Put-in: NC 581 bridge (near Buckhorn Reservoir)
Latitude: 35.4147
Longitude: 78.0640
Take-out: SR 1154 (Saint Rose Church Road) bridge
Latitude: 35.4142
Longitude: 78.0171
Time to complete: 4.5 hours
Gauge: USGS Contentnea Creek near Lucama
Minimum flow: 40 cfs
City: Wilson
State: NC