Paddle Trails

Twin Rivers Paddle Trails

The Twin Rivers Paddle Trails Packet introduces paddlers to 250 miles of mapped trails and 30 launch sites throughout the county. The 25 paddle trips and information are provided to improve your knowledge and understanding of the area, hopefully increasing your enjoyment of paddling and perhaps making for a safer trip.


These trail guides are not intended for use as a navigational map for the Neuse or Trent rivers or their tributaries. The originator of these paddle trail guides assume no liability for any injury or damage of any type whatsoever incurred due to their use. Every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, however some portions may not be shown to scale nor identify all landmarks or hazards. The use of USGS maps for the area of exploration is highly recommended. Paddling is an inherently dangerous sport. Paddlers should know their limitations, use common sense, and take precautions to avoid accidents and injuries.

The following links are provided:

Twin Rivers Paddle Trails Maps & Details
Twin Rivers Paddle Trails Packet
Parks & Recreation Department, Craven County Government

TRPC of New Bern, NC

Q: What kayak should I buy?


A: A kayak purchase depends on a number of factors including the amount of money you are willing to spend, your experience level, the type of paddling you will do, paddling locations, etc. All club members will be willing to share their thoughts and experiences. The most important advice is to try as many kayaks as possible before you buy. watch the club website for our Demo Day events as this is a great opportunity to try other kayaks:
Q: How do I know if I am ready for a Club paddle?
A: Club paddles will differ in the time on the water, type of water, distances, trip difficulty, and skill requirements. Difficulty and skill level standards are discussed in the Trip Rating System.  If you have any questions be sure to ask the Trip Coordinator.
Q: How do I join the Twin Rivers Paddle Club


A: A membership application is available on-line and at the Craven County Recreation and Parks Department. The membership dues are $12 a year per household and are prorated throughout the year. For an exact amount it is recommended that you contact the Club Treasurer.
Q: What is the purpose of the Twin Rivers Paddle Club?


A: The purpose of the Twin Rivers Paddle Club is to:

  •  promote safe and enjoyable participation in paddle sports in Craven County;
  • provide an organized venue for education and participation in paddle sports.
Q: When does the Club meet?


A: TRPC meets monthly, usually at 7 PM on the second Tuesday of the month. Meetings take place on the second floor of the Craven County Administrative Office, 406 Craven Street in downtown New Bern. Several times each year social events are held in lieu of the regular meeting, so please check our website for announcements of these changes.
Q: How much is Club membership dues?


A: Annual dues are $12 per individual, household or organization. Dues are payable each June, and are prorated for memberships beginning later in our year. Membership is not an absolute requirement for participation in club events.
Q: Do I have to own a canoe or kayak to join the club?


A: No. We encourage everyone who thinks they have an interest in paddling to attend our meetings and/or come along for a paddle. With a little pre-planning we should be able to get you into a boat and on the water! Acyually, if you do not have a boat it may be good to hold off until you have had an opportunity to talk to members and take a few test paddles before you buy.
Q: How often does the club have organized paddles?


A: The club usually has two paddles each month. They will vary in length, level of difficulty, and day of the week to the diverse schedules and skills of our members. In addition to our scheduled events, we do a number of unscheduled “pick up paddles” . These are normally advertised by e-mail to the members.
Q: How long/difficult are the paddles?
A: Club paddles have ranged from 2 to over 25 miles, and from very easy to quite challenging. Club paddles are rated both in expected difficulty and in the skill level required to participate. It is important that paddlers realistically assess their skill level and tha trip leaders accurately rate the trip difficulty.
Q: What are trip coordinators?  What are their responsibilities?


A: The trip coordinator is a club member who has volunteered to coordinate and lead a trip.  They set the itinerary, collect the names of the participants, coordinate the shuttle if required, and set the pace for the trip.
Q: What are the participants responsibilities?


A: It is the individual paddler’s responsibility to show up at the appointed place on time, properly equipped and clothed. They must have the skill set and fitness required to complete the paddle. During the paddle it is the individuals responsibility to stay with the group (not charge ahead or lag behind) and to assist other paddlers if the need should arise. It should be clearly understood that it is the individual paddler’s responsibility, NOT the leader’s, to keep the individual paddler safe!
Q: How do we rate skill levels?


A: We rate paddler levels as beginner, intermediate, and expert. A paddler’s level is a combination of their skills to maneuver a boat through the water; to read and adequately respond to water and weather conditions; to have the fitness level necessary for the paddle; and the have the equipment necessary for the conditions.

Skills: A beginner wil possess enthusiam and the desire to learn. An internediate paddler can maneuver their boar through all points of the wind in conditions up to small white caps and to “jump” wakes of power boats. An expert paddler should be able to handle swift river currents and waves washing over the boat. They should have the skills to self rescue if required.

Fitness: A beginner should recognize that paddling is a physical sport and that they are the mechanism that moves the boat through the water. If there are concerns with underlying physical conditions, any person should consult with a physician prior to participating. Intermediate paddleers should be able to paddle an hour straight without resting at a moderate pace and possess the stamina to necessary to be on the water 3 to4 hours. Expert paddlers should be able to push hard for several hours in adverse conditions and the stamina to paddle “all day”.

Equipment: Beginners should have a boat that floats, a paddle that fits and a personal flotation device (PFD). Intermediatesshould have a boat that they are capable of paddling at a speed of 4 miles per hour in neutral conditions (i.e. no wind or current on flat water). Experts should have a full set of equipment necessary to handle whatever conditions that they may encounter.

Q: How do we rate paddle difficulty levels?
A: Paddles are rated by length (in miles, time between potential rest stops, and total time on the water), water conditions, and weather conditions. It is important to recognize that a route that is an easy paddle on one occasion may be difficult and dangerous on another.

Easy Paddle: An easy paddle should be “no sweat” for a first time paddler in a terrible boat using a rotten paddle.

Intermediate Paddle: An intermediate paddle should be ten miles or less in the best of conditions and done on protected waters.

Difficult Paddle: A difficult paddle is anything over ten miles or where there is the potential for weather and/or water to challenge expert skills, stamina or equipment.

Q: Does the club have paddling instructors?


A: The club is fortunate to have several members who are truly outstanding paddlers and who have been gracious in working with other club members to improve skill levels. In addition, Craven County Parks and Recreation,in conjunction with the club, periodically offers a beginner paddling course.
Q: What kind of boat should I buy?


A: Only what you can afford and probably more advanced than you think you need. There is a tendency for first time paddlers to buy something really short and fat so they won’t tip over. Then after a paddle or two find themselves frustrated by their boat’s limitations. On a recent club beginner paddle we put a first timer in a boat even many expert paddlers would be hesitant in, because that was all that was available. She did fine because she didn’t realize she was in an “extreme” boat. She assumed all boats were that tippy! A paddler should buy a boat that will meet their needs over a period of time and not be overly concerned about going swimming a few times until they find their “seats” in the boat.

In picking a boat it is important to understand there is no one perfect boat. The same boat that tracks so well across open water may be a bear to take up a winding stream and vice-versa. That is why many of us end up with several boats. Most of our club paddles are conducted in what is referred to as touring conditions and therefore most  have touring kayaks. Touring kayaks are generally 14 to 18 feet in length and 21 to 26 inches wide. In theory, speed increases with the length of the boat and ease of paddling increases as the width decreases. Kayaks come in two basic shapes, fish form which is larger in front of the cockpit and smaller behind; and Greenland, which appear to be similar in both their bow and stern. Fish form boats tend to have larger cockpits with more leg room, are somewhat drier, and are probably easier to learn to paddle. On the downside, they are less controllable in high wind conditions. Greenland boats have a steeper learning curve and tend to be wet and tight. However, they are better suited for extreme sea and wind conditions. For the types of paddling the club does a rudder should be considered for a fish form boat and a skeg for any Greenland style boat.

Boats can be made of plastic (roto-mold), composites, or wood. Plastic boats “wear like iron, weigh like lead, and are priced right”. Composite boats are lighter, pretty, and more expensive. Wooden boats are works of art and a labor of love. We have club members paddling all three and they all work fine.

A final consideration is matching the boat to the paddler. Boats and paddlers come in different sizes and weights. Too much paddler in too little a boat is unsafe, as is too much boat and too little a paddler. Most boats have a recommended weight range. You should pick a boat where your weight falls in the middle of the range, and where your weight plus your maximum gear load will not exceed the top of the range. Also, never buy a boat you haven’t sat in wearing your paddling attire. Pay particular attention to foot space and cockpit width. You don’t want to roll over and find yourself wedged in.

Q: Besides a kayak and paddle, what other equipment do I need?


A: First and foremost you need a personal flotation device (PFD). There is no consensus as to what makes a good PFD for paddling. Flotation material in the back may conflict with your seat. Flotation material on the sides or in the front may interfere with your stroke. Several TRPC members have tried inflatable PFD’s but some experienced chafing problems. The best advice is to go to a large store with lots of PFD’s. Try them and pick the one you find most comfortable. Then buy a whistle and attach it to your PFD.

You should carry one or more bailing devices. Every kayaker should have a large sponge handy while paddling. Most also carry a small pump. They can be found for around $20. Be sure to get one sized to fit where you want to store it.

You should have a dry storage container for your cell phone and anything else you cannot afford to get wet. In today’s world the cell phone is probably the best rescue/emergency device you have. Paddlers should not go out on the water without one. In cooler weather you should have a dry bag with a change of paddling clothes, just in case.

If you will paddle on water where it is too far to “doggie paddle” to shore if you turn over you will need the following:

Paddle float:   A paddle float is a cloth covered piece of foam or inflatable bladder designed to be placed on one end of your paddle. It acts as an outrigger to enable you to self rescue in open water.

Paddle tether:   This attaches your paddle to the boat. It will keep the paddle and boat together and act as a sea anchor to prevent your boat from drifting away if you are dumped in high wind conditions.

Spray Skirt:   A spray skirt helps to keep water out of the cockpit. Nylon skirts are cooler, cheaper, and generally less effective. Neoprene skirts are hotter and more expensive. Rain jacket/skirt combos seem to work well but may be a hazard in a rollover. Skirts cann attach to you at the waist, rib cage or shoulders. Generally the higher up they attach, the more effective they are and the more bothersome they are to wear.

You may also want to consider a compass mounted to your boat’s deck and/or a handheld GPS device.Be sure to look at the device’s water resistance.

Q: What kind of paddle should I buy?


A: The short answer is as much as you can afford! The paddle is the one piece of equipment you use all day every day you paddle. You do not want to scrimp here. Money spent for a light weight carbon paddle is money well spent. Paddle length is a subject on which you will hear much discussion. Eastern North Carolina is clearly the land of the short paddle and vertical stroke. Whether that is better than a long paddle and a horizontal stroke is open to debate. You will find most paddlers here use paddles in the 205 to 220 cm range depending on their height and boat. Spoon size determines the effort required per stroke and combined with cadence determines speed. You will find most TRPC paddlers have settled on a mid-sized spoon. A few members use a “crankshaft” paddle. These bent shaft style paddles add about an ounce to the weight but seem to be easier on the wrists. Consider these if you experience wrist problems or have prior injuries. A number of TRPC paddlers have started using Greenland style paddles, which are essentially shaped 2×4’s. Greenland paddles require a different and more extensive skill set than standard kayak paddles. They should probably be left to experts looking for a new challenge.
Q: What kind of clothing should I wear while paddling?
A: In the summer time dressing is easy. A pair of swim trunks, a polo or t-shirt, a large brim floppy hat, sun glasses, something on your feet, and lots of suntan lotion. You may want to consider gloves as well. Women should avoid outfits that could make it awkward should nature call along the way.

Dressing for cool weather paddling is more of a challenge for both comfort and safety. First, paddlers should get into the habit of wearing nothing made of cotton once the air or water temperature falls below 70. Cotton, once wet, will stay wet and wick away body heat. Dress in layers so you can add or remove as the temperature changes. Long and short sleeve cool-max shirts and 100 weight fleece work well for this.Your outer layer should be relatively wind and water resistant, yet provide some level of “breathing” to allow evaporation. Exterior layers should be smooth and free of cords, buttons, toggles, etc. that could snag exiting the boat or when encountering obstructions such as limbs.

Cold weather/water paddling is hazardous due to the risk for hypothermia. Paddling in these conditions needs to be well planned. Carry extra clothing in a dry bag. Wet or dry suits may be appropriate.

Q: How can I get in shape for paddling?


A: Paddling is primarily an aerobic activity. As with any aerobic sport you train by processing oxygen at a rate similar to that needed for your sport. On most club paddles we are using roughly 300 calories an hour or 75 calories per mile. Compared to other sports this may not seem like much, but we do this for hours! Paddling is probably the best way to train for paddling. Other aerobic activities such as cycling, hiking, or a brisk walk will also help improve your aerobic fitness.

Paddling is an upper body sport. It requires strength in the arms, shoulders, neck, back, and mid section. Paddlers should consider regular exercise at a gym or fitness center to improve upper body strength.

Flexibility is another important aspect of your paddling fitness. Stretching should be a regular part of your fitness routine. Some have found yoga to be an excellent way to increase flexibility.

Paddling may on occasion require short periods of maximum effort and/or brute strength to push up stream against a current or drag a boat up a steep embankment at the end of a long day. Therefore any training routine should include periods of maximum effort to the point of momentary exhaustion. Consider consulting with your physician before beginning an exercise program.