your paddlesports destination

South Yadkin River in North Carolina

Trip Overview

Put in the South Yadkin River at the bridge on Mr Henry Road (as it's called on Davie County side) / Powell Road (as called on the Rowan County side) and paddled down to the Hwy 601 takeout, a total of about 11.4 miles per Ferguson's "Paddling Eastern NC". By the way, that book has the put in as Ratlidge Rd, which is close by, but it's actually Mr Henry Road (and equally odd, the gazateer says Mrs Henry); I think the state road numbers are correct though.

The put in isn't developed like the take out, but there's room for a couple cars along the road. There's private land on the Davie side where the access to the river is easiest and the owners appreciate notice if you use it or park close to their gate where there's a bit more room (don't block the gate though).

At this point, the South Yadkin isn't very big, maybe 40 feet wide if that, but there's was a moderate current flowing and you've got to stay alert to dodge trees/snags, which were numerous in the first couple miles. There's no whitewater here. The route is actually fairly scenic as trees line the route and drape mostly over the channel.

Around where Hunting Creek joins on the north side of the river, it widens a bit and the current seems to tail off as the next mile or two is relatively flat as one hits tailwaters behind the small dam at Cooleemee. The Junction Road takeout is on the north side of the river at about 5 miles and it's about a mile and a half further to the dam. The portage for the dam is on the right, you don't see it until you're pretty close, but it's there and consists of a wooden step/dock. The portage is a short, easily navigated trail and you can put back in in the riverside park's swimming area just below the dam. There's some shallow granite outcrops in the area that we had to step out briefly to slide over, but no big deal.

The current picks back up a bit on the downstream side of Cooleemee when the water from the dam returns to the main channel just above the Hwy 801 bridge, but there's still not a lot of gradient here. Nonetheless, it's a very pleasant paddle for the next five miles down the the boat ramp at Hwy 601.

Wildlife-wise, we saw several great blue heron, some ducks and geese, a water snake, and a couple turtles. There were a few people fishing near Cooleemee, but none seemed to be having much luck. The water is quite turbid over the entire trip.


No fees/permits required.


Put in is approximately 35.83876,-80.627203.

Take out is approximately 35.778376,-80.506616 per Google Maps.


This route is described in Ferguson's Paddling Eastern North Carolina 2nd Edition.

Beware the road confusion mentioned above, but not a big deal as things are close and pretty apparent when you get there.

Check the USGS gage for Mocksville to make sure there's sufficient flow (say greater than 1.6 feet), but there should be barring drought conditions.

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip