It’s on this stretch where you witness the Haw transform from an intimate stream where you can seemingly touch both banks simultaneously to sprawling river. The stretch begins tight, with forest crushing in from both banks, the action begins immediately, with a Class I rapid under the NC 87 bridge at the put-in.

There’s an especially nice stretch of scenery where the river passes the Shallow Ford Natural Area just over two miles in. If you’re up for an overnight adventure, the natural area has a river access and spots for camping. (If you take this option, make time to do a little hiking on Shallow Ford’s nearly 4-mile trail network.) You might allot time, too, to spend time at the take-out exploring Glencoe, an old mill town that features restored mill houses and is home to the Textile Heritage Museum, open weekends.

While you won’t find Class III water on this stretch, there are several spots where you need to pay close attention to drops and dams. Thus, it’s especially important that you check out the description of Section 3, including hazards, in “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 Greensboro

Photo: The Haw at the Shallow Ford Natural Area

Rating: Class I-II
Length: 8.2 miles
Drive: 35 minutes from downtown
Put-in: NC 87 bridge (Altamahaw)
Latitude: 36.1096
Longitude: 79.3070
Take-out: NC 62 bridge (Glencoe)
Latitude: 36.0827
Longitude: 79.2562
Time to complete: 3.5-4 hours
Gauge: USGS Haw River at Haw River
Minimum flow: 350 cfs
City: Altamahaw
State: NC