National Geographic Adventure - Instant Adventures Eastern States
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ADVENTURE
Check out the season's best
weekend trips near you.
Text by Contributing Editor Robert Earle Howells
Photograph by Michael Hanson/Aurora Photos
Kayaking: Sleep in Swamplands
It started on the Roanoke River. Years back, a series of wooden platforms built along the stream allowed paddlers to camp out for multiple days in the backcountry. Now this swampland sleepover has made its way to the nearby Chowan River, a backwoods alternative to the Roanoke accessed via the kind of narrow, twisting run that local paddlers call a "trib." Rent kayaks from Durham-based Frog Hollow Outdoors and put in at Merchant Mills State Park, gliding through Millpond and Lassiter Swamp on a serpentine, moss-draped course down the tea-colored waters of Bennett's Creek. The 25-mile push ends at a handful of platforms on Holladay Island, a 200-acre cypress refuge on the 1.5-mile-wide Chowan. "When the wind picks up on the river, put your rudder down," cautions local paddler Bambi Edwards. "It's kind of like riding a roller coaster up and down the small swells." Holladay Island, your home for the night, was first spotted in 1586 by explorer Sir Walter Raleigh and later suspected to be the site of Edward "Blackbeard" Teach's buried treasure.