The Roanoke begins its run in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, but doesn’t settle into flatwater mode until after one last hurrah of Class I-III rapids upstream in Roanoke Rapids. From there, the last 124 miles down to Plymouth offers passage through what The Nature Conservancy has deemed one of its Last Great Places targeted for saving. More info here.

Of the Roanoke, the The Nature Conservancy says: “Its floodplain contains the largest intact and least-disturbed bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem remaining in the mid-Atlantic region. The middle section of the Roanoke River is characterized by alluvial forests and large backswamps, while the lower section contains vast tracts of bald cypress and water tupelo swamp forests. The Roanoke River provides a haven for a host of plants and animals, including more than 200 bird species.” Since 1989, the conservancy has been involved in efforts to preserve more than 50,000 acres along the Roanoke.

To help paddlers fully enjoy the Roanoke, the Roanoke River Partners are building camping platforms along the river. To date, 16 platforms have been installed, with more on the way. They range from simple platforms to multi-leveled platforms to screen-enclosed structures. (Check ‘em out here.)

Paul Ferguson of “Paddling Eastern North Carolina” guidebook renown, divides this 124-mile stretch of the Roanoke into 10 sections. We choose Section 2 for its remoteness (“Few houses are seen until reaching the Halifax area”), for its wildlife (including bald eagles), its ease of access (off US 301 in Weldon, just off I-95) and its simple shuttle.

More info and maps: Visit the Roanoke River Partners website here. as well as The Nature Conservancy. Section 2 is one of 10 Roanoke trips covered in “Paddling Eastern North Carolina,” by Paul Ferguson.

Getting there: From I-95 south of Roanoke Rapids, take US 158 east into Weldon. Put-in is just over 2 miles. Map here.

Access and shuttle

roanoke river

Difficulty: Easy
Length: 124 miles total, from Roanoke Rapids to Plymouth; trip described is the 9.1-mile stretch from Weldon to Halifax (Section 2 in “Paddling Eastern North Carolina”)
Time to complete: 3-5 hours
Location: Public River Access on US 301 in Weldon
City: Weldon
State: N.C.
Zip: 27890
Put-in latitude: 36 25.833
Put-in longitude: -77 35.472