With rapids ranging from Class I to V, Wilson Creek is a popular destination for kayakers and features some of the best scenery, rapids and exceptional water quality in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to Wilson Creek, there are plenty of other river systems to paddle nearby. Other streams include North Harper Creek, Gragg Prong, Rockhouse Creek, Lost Cove Creek, and Johns River. Guided trips are offered by Wahoo’s Adventures. There are several nearby campgrounds and cabin rentals in the area. Paddlers should be aware of private property that runs through Pisgah National Forest in the Wilson Creek area.
Upper portions (section 1) of this stream are technically challenging and can only be paddled during heavy rains. In sections before the gorge (section 2 & 3), low- to intermediate-skilled paddlers will find a few challenges and the occasional ledge. The gorge (section 4), being one of the more popular runs in the Southeast, should only be paddled by more experienced enthusiasts, especially after a large rain. The gorge offers several major drops with Class IV and V rapids. After the gorge (section 5), Wilson Creek can be enjoyed by intermediate paddlers with Class I to II rapids.
Section 1: FS 45 to intersection of NC 90 & FS 981
Section 2: Intersection of NC 90 and FS 981 to CR 1328 Bridge
Section 3: CR 1328 Bridge to the National Forest Service Boundary sign
Section 4: National Forest Service Boundary sign to Brown Mountain Beach
Section 5: 200 yards above CR 1337 Bridge on CR 1328 to CR 1438 Bridge at Johns River
The Johns River (Class I to II) is perfect for beginner and intermediate paddlers. It runs from the Globe area of Pisgah National Forest and joins Wilson Creek and continues on to Lake Rhodhiss, north of Morganton. The upper portion (section 1) starts at the Johns River Camp bridge and runs through several low-water bridges and takes out at the bridge on CR 1356 southwest off NC 90. After a gap, section 2 starts at Collettsville at the Adako Road bridge at NC 90 and takes out at the beginning of section 3. In section 3, paddlers put in at the CR 1438 bridge and take out at the North Carolina Wildlife Access Area at the NC 18 bridge northwest of Morganton.
Section 1: Johns River Camp bridge to second low-water bridge after leaving NC 90
Section 2: Caldwell CR 1337 Bridge (Adako Rd.) in Collettsville to Burke CR 1438
Section 3: Burke CR 1438 Bridge (30 yards upstream on east bank) to NC Wildlife Access area at NC 18 bridge.
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Raft Wilson Creek with an experienced guide.
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