A certain degree of bragging rights goes along with paddling Wilson Creek, which forms on the east face of Grandfather Mountain and quickly tumbles down the Blue Ridge Escarpment through the Wilson Creek area. Sections A and D help Wilson Creek earn its macho reputation, with a healthy collection of Class III and IV+ rapids. But there are opportunities here for the less-experienced paddler as well.

Section B is a short run of Class II rapids that serve as a good introduction to the gorge. Nothing tricky here, which should help the novice paddler gain confidence. If you make it through with your ego in tact, continue downstream for another 4.5 miles on Section C, where more of the same awaits and you’ll get a chance to test your skills on the Class III Lunch Stop Rapids. (See the Wilson Creek, Section 3 description under the “Charlotte” section.)

For a complete description of this stretch, including hazards, consult “A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to the Carolinas” (see below).

More info, including maps and access: “A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to the Carolinas,” by Bob and David Benner (Menasha Ridge Press, 2002).

Getting there from downtown Winston-Salem

Photo: HighMountainExpeditions.com
Rating: Class II
Length: 2.5 miles
Drive: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Put-in: SR 90 at FR 981
Latitude: 36.0015
Longitude: 81.4655
Take-out: SR 1328
Latitude: 35.5901
Longitude: 81.4549
Time to complete: 1 hour
Gauge: visual
Minimum flow: 9 inches
City: Mortimer
State: NC