The Dan River offers paddlers an exciting and scenic adventure that runs between Virginia and North Carolina crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains to Kerr Lake. 90 Miles of river have been established as a North Carolina State Trail. Paddling the Dan River provides a mix of calm stretches and moderate rapids, making it suitable for paddlers with intermediate experience depending on what section of the river you plan to visit.
The distance of the river allows for various paddling options, from day trips to multi-day excursions, offering paddlers the flexibility to explore different sections based on their preferences. Access to the river is convenient from the Piedmont Triad and offers numerous trips for the paddler from whitewater adventures to gentle flows. The Dan River Basin Association is the official partner of the Dan River.
DAN RIVER TRIP IDEAS
These paddles are great for the whole family. These segments are also great if you are new to paddling and looking to get a taste of the paddling world! These segments will be under 2 hours and will have few if any rapids, no dam portages, and are generally calmer areas to paddle in a canoe, or flat water kayak. When its possible, we pick accesses that have bathrooms and formal river accesses. Want to learn more about paddling with the family? REI has an amazing guide.
These segments will have a great payoff for the hard work you put into paddling. These routes will range from beginner to intermediate depending on rapids and length. Always bring extra water, snacks, and safety supplies. Check out the homepage for a packing list and safety information. Don’t forget to tag @Piedmontlegacytrails or #Piedmontlegacytrails in your pictures!
These are the sections for you! These segments will cover our Advanced level of paddling with class 2+ rapids. These sections will typically require gear like whitewater kayaks, sprayskirts, helmets, and skills like the ability to wet exit your boat. If you are paddling in advanced rapids, consider taking a swift water rescue course at the White Water Center or Landmark Learning or Cape Fear River Adventures.
04) Moratock Park & Paddle Access to Pitzer Road Public Fishing Access
Put in: Moratock Park 1077 Sheppard Mill Rd, Danbury, NC 27016
Take out: Pitzer Road Public Fishing Area 1285 Pitzer Rd, Walnut Cove, NC 27052
This section was chosen for the many amenities offered by Moratock Park like lots of parking, the historic Moratock Iron Furnace, and restrooms. From Moratock Park you have two options to choose for a route. Option 1 is a shorter route that does not require a shuttle, while option 2 is a longer route that does require a shuttle.
Moratock Park is split into two halves by Sheppard Mill Rd. However, the entire park is accessible by foot.
Option 1: (Orange arrows) The northern side of Sheppard Mill Rd. has a parking lot and river access along the sandy beach area. From this beach river access you can float for 30 min or paddle for 10 min. until you reach the southern access stairs on the left side of the river. When you get out, you can walk back to the beach. This is a great route if you just want to take a quick trip to the river.
Option 2: (Green arrows) The southern side of Sheppard Mill Rd. (where the historic Moratock Iron Furnace is located) has a river access with steps down to the water. If you enter the river here, the next river access is 3.8 miles away at the Pitzer Road Public Fishing Access, making it a 4.5 hour float, or a 2 hour paddle. This section requires a shuttle.
NOTE: THE RIVER DOES NOT CIRCLE BACK.
SIGHTS WORTH SEEING
05) Pitzer Road Public Fishing Access to Hemlock Golf Course & Paddle Access
Put in: Pitzer Road Public Fishing Access: 1285 Pitzer Rd, Walnut Cove, NC 27052
Take out: Hemlock Golf Course & Paddle Access: 1232 Power House Rd, Walnut Cove, NC 27052
Rock formations and uncommon Carolina hemlock stands have received recognition as the According to Truslow, “This section of the Dan has the last of the really high bluffs before the river winds on into the Piedmont. Some are about 150 feet high.” The most spectacular is Davis Bluff, a dramatic rock face on river left where huge boulders lie in the water at the base of the cliff.
01) Jessup's Mill to Hart's Access NC 704
Put in: Jessup’s Mill River Access 1565 Collinstown Road, Westfield, NC 27053
Take out: Hart’s Access 3647 North Carolina 704 Hwy W, Lawsonville, NC 27022
This section contains a series of six class 1 & 2 rapids. In this section the banks of the river reach up to 100 ft creating a small gorge. Check Jessupmill.com for tubing, camping, music, and more.
DAN RIVER INTERACTIVE MAP
The Dan river is in Pink. Click on each number to see details of each paddling segment. Numbers correspond to the trip suggestions.
PRINTABLE BLUEWAYS GUIDE
- Visit USGS
- Scroll to the nearest water gauge to your put in.
- Check the “Daily Discharge, Cubic Feet Per Second”
- See where that number fits within the suggestions below.
- Minimum: 150 cfs / 1.75′ – You can paddle most sections of the river. Anything lower and you will go on the best walk you ever took with a kayak! low levels on the river will move slower, adding time to your paddle.
- Medium 250 cfs / 2.0′ – Whitewater kayaking can begin, and the river flow is quicker, causing your trip time to lower. This can increase rapid classifications (Ex: Class II to Class III etc.)
- Maximum: 1,000 cfs / 3.5′ – the river is dangerous and even expert paddlers should stay off the water.
DAN RIVER ACCESSES AND TRIP DETAILS
ONLY AVAILABLE ON DESKTOP OR TABLET.
VISIT INTERACTIVE MAP FOR INFO. DATA AVAILABLE ON DESKTOP OR TABLET.
|River||Access||Put in Address||Miles||Paddle||Tubing||Difficulty||Put In||Take Out||Notes|
|Dan||01) Jessup’s Mill to Hart’s Access||1565 Collinstown Road, Westfield, NC 27053||6.2 Miles||4 Hours||No Tubing||Intermediate||Right||Right|
Advanced Adventures: This section contains a series of six Class 1 & 2 rapids. In this section the banks of the river reach up to 100 ft creating a small gorge. Check Jessupmill.com for camping, music, and more!
|Dan||02) Hart’s Access to Hanging Rock Access||3647 North Carolina 704 Hwy W, Lawsonville, NC 27022||12.8 Miles||6 Hours||No Tubing||Beginner||Right||Right|
As you paddle, Big Creek enters from the right, Double Creek enters from the right, then the river takes a left turn. You will find steep rock walls. In late spring/early summer you will see lots of rhodendrons.
|Dan||03) Hanging Rock Access to Moratock Park & Paddle Access||1258 Flinchum Rd, Danbury, NC 27016||5.3 Miles||3 Hours||4+ Hours||Beginner||Right||Left|
This is a popular section. The Dan River Company is a short distance downstream of this put-in where you can rent kayaks, canoes and shuttle services.
|Dan||04) Moratock Park & Paddle Access to Pitzer Road Public Fishing Access||1077 Sheppard Mill Rd, Danbury, NC 27016||3.8 Miles||2 Hours||4 Hours||Beginner||Left||Left|
Enter the park on the southern side of Shepperd Mill Rd. The river access is near the Moratock Iron Furnace. There are steps down to the river. Moratock Park has restrooms, a park, playground, 2 parkng lots, and a sandy beach. For a shorter trip see option 2 of the Family Friendly section of the Dan River in Paddle The Piedmont.
|Dan||05) Pitzer Road Public Fishing Access to Hemlock Golf Course & Paddle Access||1285 Pitzer Rd, Walnut Cove, NC 27052||5.3 Miles||3 Hours||No Tubing||Intermediate||Left||Right|
Sights Worth Seeing: The Pitzer Road access replaces the previous Snow Creek Access. This river access is often too low to paddle, so you may need to walk up the river some. Take-out river right.
|Dan||06) Hemlock Golf Course & Paddle Access to Madison River Park||1232 Power House Rd, Walnut Cove, NC 27052||19 Miles||10 Hours||No Tubing||Intermediate||Right||Right|
This lengthy section contains mostly class 1 paddling with a series of Class 2 rapids. When the water is low, go around the left side of the island (1.4 miles in)
|Dan||07) Madison River Park to Hwy 704 Access / Sink Shoal Sluice||642 Lindsey Bridge Rd, Madison, NC 27025||3 Miles||1+ Hours||2+ Hours||Beginner||Right||Left|
This is the perfect section for a beginners and experienced paddlers! Start at Madison River Park.
|Dan||08) Hwy 704 Access / Sink Shoal Sluice to Jacobs Creek Batteau Landing||S Water St & E Academy St, Madison, NC 27025||4.25 Miles||2+ Hours||4+ Hours||Beginner||Left||Right|
This is where the Mayo and the Dan meet! Once you’re on the river it’s just you, the trees and the wildlife.
|Dan||09) Jacobs Creek Batteau Landing to Settle Bridge Access||558 Planters Rd, Madison, NC 27025||4.25 Miles||2+ Hours||4+ Hours||Beginner||Right||Right|
This section is home to remnants of the historical Jacobs Creek batteau navigational system. When you get to the end, keep an eye out at river right for metal stairs!
|Dan||10) Settle Bridge Access to Dan River Gamelands Canoe/Kayak Launch||241 Dan River Road, Madison, NC 27315||4.2 Miles||2 Hours||Not recommended||Intermediate||Right||Right|
About 1.5 miles in you will pass Eagle Island Falls. You can choose to paddle on the right or left side. The right side contains a wing dam, while the left side contains a series of drops. The take out is river right at the hairpin turn in the river.
|Dan||11) Dan River Gamelands Canoe/Kayak Launch to Klyce Street Landing||498 Woodpecker Road, Eden, NC 27288||4.7 Miles||2.5 Hours||No Tubing||Intermediate||Right||Left|
The put in access is river right on the Dan River, with 11 parking spaces. Follow the NC Wildlife Boating Access signs from Woodpecker Road down.
|Dan||12) Klyce Street Landing to Leaksville Landing||Kylce Street, Eden, NC 27288||1.1 Miles||0.5 Hours||1+ Hours||Beginner||Left||Left|
This is perfect for a relaxing day on the river to Leaksville Landing for a 1+ hour paddle. If you wish to extend your trip, you can head to the next access at the Eden Wildlife Access for a 3+ hour tubing trip.
|Dan||13) Leaksville Landing to Eden Wildlife Boating Access||36.485653543484894, -79.76359867930195||1.5 Miles||1+ Hours||2+ hours||Beginner||Left||Left|
About .5 mile below the Leaksville Landing is a large stone tower from the 1838 Leaksville Toll Bridge. The Smith River enters on the left before you arrive at the Eden Wildlife access on your right. The takeout is just past the powerlines which pass overhead.
|Dan||14) Eden Wildlife Boating Access to Draper Landing Access||587 Bethlehem Church Road, Eden, NC 27288||5 Miles||2+ Hours||No tubing- Dangerous||Intermediate||Left||Left|
DAM AHEAD! DO NOT FLOAT OR PADDLE OVER THE DAM. Portage the right side of dam. Do not tube this section. Using a guide while paddling is advised. This beautiful arched Mebane Bridge, built in 1924, is just downstream of the put in. You must portage around the Duke Energy Dam. Watch out for signs while on the water. Next take out is on the right side.
|Dan||15) Draper Landing Access to Abreu-Grogan Park Access||763 South Fieldcrest Rd, Eden, NC, 27288||take out only||take out only||No Tubing||take out only||take out only||take out only||take out only|
|Smith||Smith River Island Ford Access to Dan River Eden Wildlife Boating Access||901 River Dr, Eden, NC 27288||2 Miles||1 Hour||–||Beginner||Left||Left|
DAN RIVER RESOURCES
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Disclaimer: This information is used entirely at the reader’s discretion and is made available on the expressed condition that no liability, expressed or implied, is accepted by the author or publisher or any of its associates, employees, branches, or subsidiaries for the accuracy, content, or use thereof. River channels are dynamic features and thus change frequently; the boater must be aware that hazards exist and be wary of them. Paddling poses significant potential hazards, including the risk of injury or death, and each person participating in this activity needs to understand the risks involved, obtain the necessary training, and take all the needed precautions. This guide provides general information on the topic of paddling, and by providing this information, we do not assume any liability for its use.