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Dan River


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. 


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

Map of Moratock Park route options
Moratock Park River Access (south side)

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. 



05) Pitzer Road Public Fishing Access to Hemlock Golf Course & Paddle Access

Pitzer Rd. Access with concrete ramp, stairs and kayak slide
Hemlock Golf Course River Access gravel ramp

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

Hart's Access

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 for tubing, camping, music, and more. 


The Dan river is in Pink. Click on each number to see details of each paddling segment. Numbers correspond to the trip suggestions.


  1. Visit USGS 
  2. Scroll to the nearest water gauge to your put in.
  3. Check the “Daily Discharge, Cubic Feet Per Second”
  4. See where that number fits within the suggestions below.
The following information is to be used as a guide in perfect conditions. Please check water conditions, weather forecasts, and pertinent dam releases before paddling. These can all impact the flow greatly.  
  • 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.




NameGPS CoordinatesMiles to NextDifficultyAddressPortageParkingBathroomsBoat Launch SurfacePut in (River side)Description
Jessup’s Mill Access36.525703, -80.3704236.1 MilesIntermediate1565 Collinstown Road, Westfield, NC 27053Large gravel lot next to road and river access, no accessible spaces. Farm road cuts through lotNoWooden stairs under bridge leads to sandy embankment. Wood cartop launch. Not motorized boat access.RightAdvanced 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 for camping, music, and more! More info here:
Hart’s Access36.514368, -80.30275012.8 MilesBeginner3647 North Carolina 704 Hwy W, Lawsonville, NC 27022Gravel lot off of heavily eroded loop driveway. No Accessible spacesNoConcrete ramp at end of parking lot. Accessed by steep gravel drivewayLeftAs 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. More info here:
Hanging Rock Access36.429985, -80.2482595.2 MilesBeginner1258 Flinchum Rd, Danbury, NC 27016paved lotNopaved boat rampRightThis 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. More info here:
Moratock Park Access36.409296, -80.1959713.8 MilesBeginner1077 Sheppard Mill Rd, Danbury, NC 27016Large gravel driveway leads to bank of river, ~200′ along river to a gravel parking loop.1 Porta-john near the parking loopstairs lead down to water level across sandy embankment. No ramp, no handrails, no launch.LeftEnter 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. More info here:
Pitzer Road Public Fishing Access36.401827, -80.1458315.3 MilesIntermediate1285 Pitzer Rd, Walnut Cove, NC 27052Small paved lotNoConcrete steps & concrete handicap rampLeftSights 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. More info here:
Hemlock Golf Course36.369400, -80.1267539.2 Miles1232 Power House Rd, Walnut Cove, NC 27052Paved pullout into gravel shoulder next to access. No marked accessible spacesNogravel road leads to concrete rampRightThis 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) More info here:
Pine Hall Access36.318836, -80.0500417.1 MilesBeginner1716 Pine Hall Rd, Pine HallUneven gravel lot off of shoulder, grassy parking area in addition to that.No2 muddy overgrown ramps drop down to the water.Right
Madison River Park (Takeout)36.374784, -79.9943772.9 MilesBeginner643 Lindsey Bridge Rd, Madison, NC 27025Large gravel lot1 Porta-johnrampRightThis take out is before/upstream of the class 1 rapids at the Madison River park. Exit here at the concrete ramp that leads to the parking lot. More info here:
Madison River Park (Put-In)36.374846, -79.9933892.9 MilesBeginner644 Lindsey Bridge Rd, Madison, NC 27025Large gravel lot2 Porta-johnrampRightThis is the perfect section for a beginners and experienced paddlers! Start at Madison River Park. Put in can be in the class 1 rapids, or carry your boat further downstream to avoid the rapids. More info here:
Hwy 704 Access36.384917, -79.9550184.25 MilesBeginnerS Water St & E Academy St, Madison, NC 27025Main lot is gravel and lawn, well graded and partially shaded by highway bridge and approx. 75′ by 12 port-a-johns, reasonably maintained, 1 accessible, located in main parking lotstairsLeftThis is where the Mayo and the Dan meet! Once you’re on the river it’s just you, the trees and the wildlife. Beware of the next take out. The river bank can wash out and leave a csmall cliff under the staircase making it very difficult to use this as a take out. More info here:
Jacobs Creek Batteau Landing36.390567, -79.8880844.3 MilesBeginner558 Planters Rd, Madison, NC 27025Gravel lot with accessible parkingNoStairsRight
This section is home to remnants of the historical Jacobs Creek batteau navigational system. This put in has a steep staircase to the water. The river can wash out the riverbank and leave a drop between the last step and the river bank. Walk all the way to the put in before deciding to put your boat in. Just beyond Settles Bridge on river right there will be metal steps at the takeout. More info here:
Settles Bridge Access36.410852, -79.8265194.25 MilesIntermediate241 Dan River Road, Madison, NC 27315A sloped gravel lot, 250′ x 50′ off of the dead end of Dan River road. No accessible spaces.NoA 10′ wide footpath leads from the parking area down to stairs, stairs are trechearous, no handrailsRightAbout 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. More info here:
Dan River Game Lands Canoe/Kayak Launch36.433559, -79.7972601.1 MilesIntermediate498 Woodpecker Road, Eden, NC 27288gravel parking lotNoconcrete stepsRightThe 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. More info here:
Klyce Street Landing36.475314, -79.7777261.5 MilesBeginnerKylce Street, Eden, NC 27288Gravel lotNoMetal stairsLeftThis 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. More info here:
Leaksville Landing River Access36.485483, -79.7636931.3 MilesBeginner36.485653543484894, -79.76359867930195Gravel lot with 8 marked spots, no accessible spotsNoConcrete boat rampLeftAbout .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. More info here:
Eden Wildlife Access36.475320, -79.7501925 MilesIntermediate587 Bethlehem Church Road, Eden, NC 27288Gravel lot just off of road. No accessible spaces. Prone to floodingNo12′ wide paved boat ramp, no hand railsLeftDAM AHEAD! DO NOT FLOAT OR PADDLE OVER THE DAM. You must 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. More info here:
Draper Landing River Access36.498377, -79.68100421.5 Miles763 South Fieldcrest Rd, Eden, NC, 2728840′ x 40′ well graded gravel lot. No accessible spacesNo50′ gravel drive leads to graded metal staircase down to water line. 10′ wide w/ handrails. No rampRightThis is the last Dan River access in North Carolina. The next access is in Danbury Virginia. More info here:
Abreu-Grogan Park Access36.575143, -79.4344003.6 Miles2020 Memorial Drive, Danville, VA, 24541Sloped lot parallel to stree. 2 Accessible spaces with access aisles. 10 other spotsYes – 1 accessible indoor bathroom next to boathouse18′ wide ocncrete boat ramp w/ accessible pier. Another smaller ramp for launching rowing boatsRightDAM AHEAD! DO NOT FLOAT OR PADDLE OVER THE DAM. No portage or downstream river access.


MadTown Tubing

102 N. Water St. Madison, NC 27027 336-548-2789 Rentals: Kayak / Tube

Mayodan Outdoor Sports, Inc.

100 East Main Street Madison, NC 27027 336-548-6296 Rentals: Kayak / Tube

Dan River Company

1110 Flinchum Rd. Danbury, NC 27016 336-593-2628 Rentals: Kayak / Tube / Shuttle

Dan River Outfitters & Glamping

4890 NC Hwy 704 Madison, NC 27025 336-916-7070 Rentals: Tubing / Events / Camping


The Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) protects and promotes the Dan River Basin through recreation, education and stewardship.





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.