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Canoeing & Kayaking


Black River, Harrells, NC
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Copyright 2001 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Dee Lutz
  • Date Submitted: 7/2001
  • Location: Harrells, North Carolina
  • Class: 1
  • Distance Paddled: 15 miles round trip
  • Water: fresh blackwater
  • Wildlife: pileated woodpeckers, goldfinches, flycatchers, great blue herons, and lots of other songbirds, a tree that was scratched by bears, deer prints on beaches, and mosquitoes in the woods
  • Special Regulations: none known


  • Directions: Take I-40 to the Wallace exit where you get on 41 West. Take 41 West about 15 miles to Harrells, then about another 3 to 5 miles to the bridge. It's a fairly large bridge, and the road on the far side of the bridge is called Black River Road. We parked on the near side of the bridge.
  • Fee: none
  • Description: Put in at bottom of hill below the bridge. There is a small dirt path down to the bottom of the hill -- probably about 1/10 of a mile. Fairly steep -- no problem carrying a sea kayak with two people, but probably pretty difficult alone.
  • Parking: Park on the side of road by the bridge. There is no parking lot. This would not be a good place for a large group trip for this reason.
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none

What We Saw

The river was beautiful; dark brown with tannin but very clear. Excellent birding -- we saw two pileated woodpeckers, goldfinches, flycatchers, a couple of great blue herons, and lots of other songbirds. There were several beaches along the way so it's a nice trip for picnicking. It's fairly shady along the river so it was not terribly hot. Mosquitoes were bad in the woods, but didn't bother either of us at all on the river. There was one large downed tree that we needed to portage around, but it was not much of a problem as there was beach on both sides of the tree.

We paddled down river for 6.5 miles to the Sampson County Rt. 1007 Bridge, then went another mile (we think) then paddled back. The paddle upstream was not much harder than going down as the current is not very strong. It was even more lovely going back because as evening was falling more birds were coming out and the river was really coming alive. It's quite an isolated place -- the whole day we passed one fisherman on the banks and one couple fishing in a boat. I think we only passed a total of 3 houses along the way.

The only down side was that Sampson County is in swine country and at one point the wind was blowing from a direction that brought some pig odor -- not extreme, but I don't know if it would be worse on a really windy day. As it was, we only noticed it for about 20 minutes.