An intimate stretch of Lake Johnson

One thing you love to do in summer is take the canoe or kayak down a lazy Piedmont river. Stay near the bank to avoid the sun, let the current do most of the work. Bask in the quiet.
At least, you like to think about taking the canoe or kayak down a lazy Piedmont river in summer because, come to think of it, getting the boat wet is still on your summer to-do list. And it is the middle of August, you know.
Time’s a waistin’.
Which is why we’re here today as part of our August SOS! Save Our Summer adventure mission.  Last week, we shared five Piedmont hikes where getting wet is part of the adventure. This week, we show you five nearby lazy rivers where you can knock Summer Paddle off your adventure to-do list.
Learn more about getting to the rivers and access at our online paddle guide (click on the appropriate link).

Putting in at McIver Landing on the Deep
Putting in at McIver Landing on the Deep

Deep River
McIver Landing to Deep River Park
6.3  miles
The Deep River gets its name not from the fact that the water is deep; rather, from the fact that the river’s banks tend to be deep (or high, depending upon your vantage point. For you, the summer paddler, that translates into trees towering especially high on either bank, doing an especially good job of blotting out the midday sun. Parallel country roads make for quick shuttles, and the area’s coal mining past offers some unusual peeks, including the Endor Iron Furnace,  into the past.
More info here.

The greenway offers unusual shuttle options on the Neuse

2. Neuse River
5 access points in 17 miles
Rivers don’t get more accommodating than the Neuse. On its 17-mile run on the east side of town, the City of Raleigh has five launches. Put in below Falls Dam for a two-hour paddle to Capital Boulevard or a four-hour meander to Buffaloe Road. Only got time for a quickie? The 2-mile run from Old Milburnie Road to Anderson Point can be done in an hour without lifting your paddle. And, you can run the shuttle, literally, on the greenway that parallels the river. All sorts of good options.
More info here.

3. Lake Johnson
Boat house at 4601 Avent Ferry Road
1-2 hours
No boat? No problem. For $5 an hour, rent one of the park’s new sit-on-tops that, unlike most sit-on-tops, slices through the water. Explore the 150-acre lake and its coves, or paddle under Avent Ferry Road into a wetlands fed by Walnut Creek. The paddling is exposed but convenient, and if you can’t get out on the weekend, check a boat out in the evening after work. Nice way to wind down the day and accomplish a summer paddle. (Psst. You can also rent standup paddleboards and Sunfish sailboats.)
More info here.

Upper Haw River
Upper Haw River

4. Upper Haw River
Shallow Ford Natural Area
5.5 miles
The 70 miles of navigable Haw River, from north of Greensboro to Jordan Lake, is a study in contrasts: dammed sections offer flat water paddling, rocky stretches where Class III water can be found after a rain, Mellow stretches with a current just strong enough to provide enough propulsion to let you concentrate on the river’s junglelike setting. This is especially true on the 5.5-mile stretch from the Shallow Ford Natural Area to Indian Valley Paddle Access. To quote our friends at Haw River Canoe & Kayak: “This is a beautiful gentle paddle with a few small rapids to Indian Valley.”
More info here

Options on the Catawba

5. Catawba River
U.S. National Whitewater Center
2-3 hours
Think of the U.S. National Whitewater Center and you think of raucous Class III rapids on the park’s manmade concrete river. But it’s also the site of just the opposite: a placid stretch of the mighty Catawba River, which begins its journey in the foothills east of Asheville. The Catawba retains some of its mountain heritage, running clear and cool, the latter aided by the ample tree cover crowding both banks and providing substantial canopy. Put in at the Whitewater Center, take out just below the U.S. 29 bridge.
More info here.