Some buddies and I decided to make this year's canoe/kayak camping trip down the Lumber River. According to rangers, the river level was VERY low compared to the past 3 years or so. This presents a challenging paddle with many portages since trees are uncovered and have not been cleared yet. Honestly, we probably would have chosen a different route if we had known just how hard the first day was going to be. But, you live and learn. At the river's current state, the only section recently cleared by rangers for this low of a water level is between Willouby Rd. and the Princess Anne Access.
Friday - We put in at the boat launch off of Hwy 72 just up river of the power plant. We were on the water by about 10am with three kayaks and one canoe. The first mile or so was great with amazing weather and open water ahead of us. Soon we found out, that the Lumber River really can live up to it's name.
Over the course of the next 10 miles we had to portage or get creative to traverse trees every 100 yards or so. It was fairly difficult (not recommended for those looking for a leisurely float) but we managed to keep up a pace of around 1 mph through the thickest parts.
Finding Buck Landing with the map provided by the park proved difficult so I've attached GPS coordinates for all of the canoe-in campsites at the end of this. The campsite was a welcome sight since we didn't arrive until just after 8pm. Since the original grill has been claimed by the river (like many of the trees) the grill is now a cinder block with a rusted wire grate so don't expect much. The size of the lot and two picnic benches were plenty for the six of us. Good hammock spots required trouncing through decently thick brush though. Overall it was a great spot with high ground and true seclusion.
Saturday - After breakfast and packing up, we departed Buck Landing by 10am. We only encountered a handful more downed trees before getting to the Hwy 74 bridge. We passed the Piney Island camping site during that stretch. It most definitely looked like the best canoe-in site on the river (of the ones we passed). It was fully intact with a nice pier.
The river opens up just before the Hwy 74 bridge and the current all but stops for the next couple miles. During this section we passed two spots at Pea Ridge. One is a rest area. It was just some flat high land with a picnic table and bench. Not to far from there down the river is the actual canoe-in camp spot. We continued down river and made it to our final destination at Princess Anne by around 5pm. That put our pace for the day around a leisurely 2mph (a much more relaxing paddle).
We stayed at the campgrounds at Princess Anne for the night and left for home the following morning.
Overall it was a fun, at times challenging, trip. We saw a ton of great wildlife, from a fawn swimming across our path in the river, to the various indigenous birds, a water snake (he was inches from my paddle sunning on some vegetation), a water moccasin, an otter, and even a small alligator!
The USGS at Boardman, NC had the river level at 2.8 to 2.5 ft for the duration of our trip. Again, this is very low. I'd recommend trying the river either when the water level is closer to 5-6ft for a much more relaxing trip.
Depends on the campsite... Most have picnic benches, a fire pit, and grill
Pungo 120, 2x Perception Rhythm 11, Tarpon 120, Old Town Canoe
Canoe-in camping is first come first serve and free.
Camping at the park is $13 per night.
Take exit 17 from I-95 to Hwy 72 East and follow until you get to a bridge where the boat launch is.
Princess Ann can be accessed by taking exit 13 off I-95 to 74 East. Take a right on S Creek Rd. Follow that until you can take a left at Princess Ann Rd. This will take you to the park.
State Park website, Paddling.net, and the venerable Google Maps