October FSO - Paddle the Dan River and Celebrate

October 7, 2023
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Photo of rocks on the dan river state paddle trail. this will be part of the paddle where kayakers and others who enjoy will see beautiful landscapes. Celebrate the Dan River State Trail and Year of the Trail with us!

It was the fall of 2009, September 5, to be exact, when DRBA hosted an outing at the recently opened access at Draper Landing. One of the paddlers that day – then DRBA Director Allison Szuba, provided this musing – “Leonardo DaVinci is credited with saying, “In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.” It is apparent how lucky we are to enjoy this snippet of time in the rivers’ life. We are just guests here.”


Join in DRBA’s seven-mile float on the Dan River from Eden’s Draper Landing Access to a private property take-out about a quarter mile downstream of the Berryhill Bridge on October 7, coordinated by Will Truslow, avid paddler and a past President of DRBA. Participants should meet by 9:00 a.m. at the access’s graveled parking lot (GPS 36.4987, -79.6814) beside the NC 700 Bridge to set up the shuttle which will end on private property with the owner’s permission.

About the Paddle:

In this river trip of Class I water, participants will navigate at least seven ledges and shoals with long-standing historic names found on old maps. Six of these have been made easier to navigate by structures such as sluice walls built in the nineteenth century by the Roanoke Navigation Company (founded 1812), a joint effort of Virginia and North Carolina, and by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The sluice walls concentrate the river’s water at shallow ledges, creating a narrow channel deep enough to float long, narrow batteaux, the commercial “semi-trailers” of early river travel. Devil’s Jump Shoal, just downstream from Cascade Creek, is named for impressive, mid-river rocks. On river right less than a mile downstream from Devil’s Jump is the confluence of the Dan with Tanyard Creek, named for the tannery owned by John Morehead, father of North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead, who grew up nearby. Between two old sluice walls of Tanyard Shoal, separated by nearly a half-mile of  the Dan’s flow, is a place called on an 1823 survey “The Wreck,” according to William E. Trout III, author of the Dan River Atlas. “Why?” he asks, inviting future river mappers to solve the mystery.

Other examples of intriguing nineteenth-century labels are Beasley’s Gallows Shoal Sluice and the well-preserved Hairston’s Fish Trap Sluice, likely modified from an indigenous fish weir of 1000 years ago.

The trip is part of the series of over 240 First Saturday Outings that have been offered by DRBA almost from its inception. Other interesting facts about the geology, history, and culture of this section of the river are found in Maps 42 – 45 of “An Insider’s Guide to the Dan River in North Carolina and Virginia,” available at www.danriver.org.

What to bring: 

Participants in the outing are asked to provide a boat, paddle, life jacket, lunch, and water, to dress in layers of artificial (quick-drying) fabric, and to sign a waiver.

Directions: To reach Draper Landing Access (GPS 36.4987, -79.6814) (Google Maps) from the north or west, take NC 14 to NC 700 East. Travel on NC 700 about 4 miles through Eden to the bridge over the Dan River. After crossing the bridge, go 0.1 mile and turn left into the gravel driveway to the access.

From the south take US 29 North, turning left (west) on NC 700. Just past Quesinberry Road, turn right into the gravel driveway to the access beside the NC 700 Bridge over the Dan.

From the east take US 29 South, turning right (west) on NC 700, and proceed as described above.

For trip information, contact trip coordinator Will Truslow, 336-314-5022, willtruslow@hotmail.com


Outings and meetings of the Dan River Basin Association are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.danriver.org.

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