The Dan poses an unusual problem for a Piedmont river: finding a stretch that’s placid enough to paddle. For the most part, the Piedmont is veined with streams that slowly meander their way. But up here in the Sauratown Mountains, the Dan boasts stretches with Class I, II and III water.

There’s a bit of a respite, though, on the 4.3-mile stretch from the Moore’s Springs Campground Access downstream to the take-out at Hanging Rock State Park. You will find one or two Class I rapids, just enough to give you a little challenge on your way downstream. And, it gives you more time to pay attention to the wondrous scenery here where the Dan butts up against Hanging Rock, one of three peaks in the ancient Sauratown range. Craggy Hanging Rock and its neighbor, Moore’s Knob, rise nearly 2,000 feet above the surrounding countryside.

Other mellow stretches of the Dan can be found farther downstream, beyond NC 704; this is the nearest to Winston-Salem. Because it is a mountain river, it’s not alway runable. According to Paul Ferguson’s “Paddling Eastern Norther Carolina,” this stretch needs a minimum flow of 125 cubic feet per second to run. Check the USGS gage for Dan River near Francisco.

More info

Maps: Paul Ferguson’s “Paddling Eastern North Carolina,” Pocosin Press.

Getting there from downtown Winston-Salem

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 40 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem
Time to complete: 2 hours
Address: 2701 Moore’s Springs Road
City: Westfield
State: N.C.
Zip: 27053
Latitude: 36.2591
Longitude: 80.1762