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Durham Flyer - Finding Eno River Treasures By Water

Excerpts from:

Durham Flyer – March 2008

Finding Eno River Treasures by Water

By Elizabeth Friend

Whether you’re winding your way up a creek in a kayak, rowing through rapids in a canoe, or gently wafting in open waters, the Eno River offers a myriad of recreational paddling opportunities.  Hiking trails, and historic mills may be the river’s claim to fame, but paddlers know it hides a treasure trove of aquatic adventures for everyone from beginner to seasoned pro.

For those new to paddling, getting started can seem a daunting task.  Luckily our area boasts a plethora of naturalists who are passionate about sharing their love of the outdoors...

… If you haven’t set foot in a canoe since your days at summer camp, consider calling the folks at Frog Hollow Outdoors for a guided tour of some of the Eno’s finest paddling spots.  “Canoeing is for everybody…from young kids to folks in their 80s,” says Banks Dixon, founder of Frog Hollow Outdoors.  “The most exciting thing is creating a sense of wonder about the outdoors.”  For beginners, Banks recommends quiet stretches of the river that offer flatwater, meaning minimal current and no rapids.

A great starting place might be a relaxed picnic on the water at West Point on the Eno.  Enter the water above the dam behind the mill, and row upstream about 3/4 of a mile to Sennet Hole.  Paddle back at a leisurely pace.  This short but lovely trip is a nice introduction to the Eno as well as a gentle start to paddling adventures.  The dam guarantees deep waters all year round, making this an excellent spot for fishing as well.

Farther off the beaten path in the Three Rivers area, named after the convergence of the Eno, Little and Flat Rivers, which form the headwaters of the Neuse.  There are numerous launching points for canoes, and kayaks, but the Eno River boat ramp access off of Red Mill Road and Technica Boulevard is perhaps the most accessible.  Large, deep expanses of flatwater give paddlers the freedom to explore in many directions, through river channels, tiny side streams, and on open water.  In this labyrinth of islands, creeks, and coves, the importance of a good map or knowledgeable guide becomes readily apparent.

In the varied waters of the Three Rivers area, kayaks provide a distinct advantage over traditional canoes.  Lighter, easier to maneuver and more stable than their two-person counter-parts, kayaks allow paddlers access to the shallow streams and creeks where canoes cannot go…

Many first-time paddlers are unnerved at the prospect of kayaking, as it calls to mind dramatic underwater rolls to right an upturned craft.  This is not the case with recreational kayaks, which feature a larger cockpit.  If you tip over, you just fall out and get back in.  “There’s a mystery around kayaks,” says Banks Dixon.  “People have misconceptions.  When they first get out on the water, you can feel their tension, but it dissolves pretty quickly.”

Regardless of the craft you choose, paddling is a wonderful way to relax the mind and strengthen the body while exploring the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Eno River…