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Lumber River in North Carolina

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Stayed at Lumber River State Park Friday night. There are many good places to camp along the river and we had done some canoeing Friday before we headed for the park, but we opted to stay at the park. We were using two vehicles and one of the reasons we were staying at the park was for their security. Leaving vehicles literally out in the middle of no where for a couple of days is a risk.

Originally planned to leave at dawns early light and see a lot of the wildlife before it gets hot, but we ran into a snag. The park closes and locks the gate at 8 PM (will be 9PM starting in June) and does not unlock till 8 AM. We wanted to keep both vehicles at the park at night so we got a late start.

While I have 2 kayaks we decided to go in 1 canoe so we could talk and see the same things. So often if you go separately, one will be a little ahead of the other and one of the people will miss seeing some wildlife. While it was somewhat slower it was a nice stable platform and the trip was very enjoyable.

We were planning on canoeing from the park to the NC/SC state line, but got some bad directions. We spent over an hour looking for the line at the river. At a gas station was told to go to the bridge at Nichols. We left one of the vehicles there and took the other back to the park. We were putting in at the same time River Bend Outfitters was lining up an entire trailer of kayaks. In order to try and see some wild life we rushed off.

It is 11.7 miles to Fair Bluff where the kayaks would be taking out. We never saw them the entire trip. We saw deer, Great Blue Heron and Giant Whites as well as an assortment of woodpeckers, finches, flycatchers, cardinals, and a host of other birds. Was hoping to see an eagle, but was disappointed in that regard. Saw 3 snakes (none poisonous although there are poisonous snakes in the area). Saw plenty of turtles, a few deer, otter, and muskrat. Did not see any beaver although saw where they were working several places.

Only saw 2 fishing boats the entire trip to Fair Bluff. Very isolated part of the river.

The water level was excellent. We had a current, but not exceptionally strong. Later in the year there will be sandbars along with some of the fallen trees, that will make portaging a necessity. The water level in Lumberton was 9.5 based on the USGS reading that you could find on line.

There are several places on the river where it splits. While I have been on the river quite a few times, I do not remember every split. The best way to determine the route you should take is to watch the current and go with the strongest. We had no problem using this method. We saw that several times it did not make a difference since the other branch ran back in later, but this was not always the case.

Had never been on the river south of Fair Bluff before, so when we asked how far it was to Nichols and was told we would not be there till sometime between 11PM and 1AM, we got concerned.

We could have spent the night in the canoe without any ill effects and I had my cell phone with the parks phone number so I could call and let them know what went wrong. We were hailed by some people that had a camp along the river and when they heard where we were going insisted on taking one of us the 9 road miles to the truck. They felt it would have been close to 15 or 18 river miles. Helped to carry our canoe up the bank and put it in the truck. Would not take a dime. People could not have been nicer.

Instead of turning left in Fair Bluff and following 904, we should have turned right and stayed along the river till we came to a sign that said Griffins Landing. Later we ate dinner in a pizza shop in Fair Bluff. Food was good, but atmosphere is small town.

When we got back to the State Park we went to our campsite. The Ranger in charge, Neil Lee who had heard our plans the night before came to our camp and said he was worried. Felt we should have been back a couple hours sooner and was just checking on us. We told him our story and thanked him for his concern. Once again the people we met on this trip would have to rate a 10.


Lumber River State Park - Has flush commodes and sinks with running water. No showers no food. Camp sites are $9.00 per night.

Lumberton on I-95 exits 22, 20, 29,17, and 14 have at least 20 motels and twice as many places to eat.

Fair Bluff has a pizza shop that can seat maybe 40 and a drug store that serves ice cream. there may be more, but I did not notice.


If you leave your car at the park overnight you need to get a permit so they know what your car is doing. do not think there is a fee.
Camping is $9 per night per site.


Exit 14 on I-95 in NC head east on 74 about 8 miles till you see the sign for Lumber River State Park.

When you leave Lumber River State Park (going toward Fair Bluff) when you leave the gate take a left and at every intersection take a left and about 9 miles later you will be in Fair Bluff.


North Carolina Costal Paddle Trails.

USGS reports to check water level.

Trip Details

  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location