Agenda Discovery Week Month

Curated for Me

Kayak the Natahala!

0-100 Adventure- Hiking, Kayaking, Social / Etc.
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Endorsed by Curators:
Jun 17 7:00AM - 8:00AM

The best overall kayaking experience in North Carolina, for beginners and experienced kayakers alike, is here in the clear, cold waters of the Nantahala River. It's a long drive from Stonecrest (199.6 miles, 3:15 travel time), so it's probably best we get an early start, thus the 7:00am meetup time. It is, however, very well worth the extra effort!

For those who aren't familiar with the Nantahala, or perhaps have never kayaked before, here's the basics: The Nantahala is a dam-controlled river boasting Class I and Class II rapids. We rent rubberized "ducky" kayaks which are very stable, safe, and easy to use. The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) provides the duckies, the paddles, a personal flotation device (which you must wear while on the water!), and wetsuits or splash jackets, and helmets for those who choose to use them. I find the wetsuits come in handy for those who are sensitive to cold water, and are quite comfortable. The NOC also provides a mandatory safety briefing and some basic kayaking instructions, and presents a short video to all kayakers prior to taking them to the put in point. Once in the water it's a simple matter of riding the river downstream, paddling as necessary or desired, and enjoying the scenery and comraderie, and riding the small rapids. The trip down river takes about three hours depending on how fast you want to go, and how long you stop at the "Pizza by the River" restaurant (easily identified by the large pirates flag hanging out over their river-view porch) for a slice, a cool drink, or just to warm up by the fire. Just prior to the take out you will have the opportunity to take on the one Class III rapid on the river, "Nanatahala Falls", if you so choose. If you're not sure you want to do that, you can beach your kayak at a well-marked take out and walk about 100 yards down to an overlook of the rapid and watch other kayakers go through it. If you decide you don't want to try it, you're finished! There is nothing more for you to do but walk over to the NOC and turn in your PDF. The NOC staff will retrieve your kayak and paddles from the beach. If you DO want to tackle the rapid, just go back to your kayak, hop in, and ride. Your journey will end just after the rapid, at a take out on your left. The take out happens to be the NOC headquarters where our adventure began, so once you reach it you just get out of the kayak, turn in your PDF and paddles, and you're right back at your car. There are changing facilities on site, so make sure you bring a towel and a change of clothes! Some other recommendations: Wear 'aqua socks' or old tennis shoes for kayaking, never flip-flops.

Bring sunscreen and use it. I've never had a problem with bugs up there, but the river takes your alternately through shade and light areas, so sun screen is essential. A good hat is useful too.

Bring a water bottle, but please secure it to your person or otherwise inside the boat so it doesn't splash out and become river trash. Wear whatever you would normally wear to get in the water, and bring a full change of clothes, and a towel.

By the way, there are a couple of good options for food at the NOC, including a very nice restaurant with great views overlooking the river. And there's some pretty good shopping available as well. I'm checking the prices for that weekend now, but it's usually around $45 for the whole shebang. Since it's a long drive you may want to look into staying over Saturday night, or even coming up the Friday night before. I'll be offering rides from Stonecrest Saturday morning, with return planned for between 9-10:00pm, assuming dinner on the road.

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