Because of its small watershed, the Flat can usually be run only in the immediate aftermath of a good rain. But when it is runnable, long-timers say this is a great stretch.

Tucked into a narrow gorge at the start, there’s Class I+ action to just over a mile in, where ledges create a Class II+ drop. About a mile from the take out you’ll find the run’s Class III rapid, courtesy of the remnants of an old dam.

Adding to the allure of this stretch is the scenery. Along much of its run the Flat is bordered by Hill Forest, an educational and research forest managed by N.C. State University. In spots, the Flat plunges through a lush gorge a couple hundred feet deep, rare for the Piedmont.

This stretch can be especially tricky. 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: Friends of Hill Forest

Rating: Class II-III
Length: 3.4 miles
Drive: 35 minutes from downtown Chapel Hill
Put-in: SR 1614 (State Forest Road) bridge
Latitude: 36.1198
Longitude: 78.5315
Take-out: Wilkins Road, Lake Michie access
Latitude: 36.1048
Longitude: 78.5175
Time to complete: 1.5 hours
Gauge: USGS Flat River at Bahama
Minimum flow: 190 cfs
City: Durham County
State: NC