Until a whitewater park gets developed at the base of Falls dam, the one-two punch of the 3.5-mile stretch of the Neuse between Old Milburnie Road and Poole Road will have to suffice for Raleigh’s whitewater kicks. And by one-two punch, that’s one Class II and two Class Is.

The Class Is happen quickly, the first shortly after putting in at the City of Raleigh access, the second a half mile in, at the US 64 bridge. The Class II is a boulder field after Crabtree Creek joins the Neuse. Paul Ferguson in his “Paddling Eastern North Carolina” notes that flow of 400 cfs (as recorded at the USGS Crabtree Creek gauge just above the rapid) is recommended for Class II passage. Once flow exceeds 1,000 cfs, says Ferguson, the rapid becomes small waves.

Side note: this stretch runs alongside the Neuse River Trail, a 28-mile greenway extending from the dam at Falls Lake downstream to the Johnston County line (where another greenway runs five miles into Clayton). The trail is being completed in sections and should be wrapped up by mid-2013. Expect company along the banks.

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 Raleigh


Rating: Class I, II
Length: 3.5 miles
Drive: 15 minutes from downtown
Put-in: Old Milburnie Road
Latitude: 35.4789
Longitude: 78.3239
Take-out: Poole Road
Latitude: 35.4529
Longitude: 78.3197
Time to complete: 1-1.5 hours
Gauge: USGS Neuse River near Falls
Minimum flow: dam release; always above minimum
City: Raleigh
State: NC