Truth in advertising: This is not a stretch of river that will thrill a whitewater enthusiast. You don’t even need a whitewater boat. Heck, a sit-on-top would do.

Rather, it’s more for the flatwater paddler who likes a little mid-river action every now and then. That’s what you get in the first three miles or so, where a mix of islands and broken dams create a series of Class I runs. You needn’t have skills to paddle this water, but you will get the occasional thrill. This stretch is also dependable: Falls dam upstream ensures there’s always water in the Neuse.

At the take-out in downtown Smithfield take a few minutes to noodle around downtown and check out the Ava Gardner Museum, / celebrating the life of the celebrated actress who was born nearby. Also check out the 3.3-mile Bufflalo Creek Greenway. HYPERLINK “”

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

Photo: Paddle, then peruse Smithfield’s cultural attributes
Rating: Class I
Length: 14.2 miles
Drive: 1 hour 10 minutes
Put-in: NC 42 bridge
Latitude: 35.3877
Longitude: 78.2434
Take-out: Smithfield Town Commons Park, downtown
Latitude: 35.3055
Longitude: 78.2127
Time to complete: 7 hours
Gauge: USGS Neuse River near Clayton
Minimum flow:
always above minimum
City: Smithfield
State: NC