My Brother and I accompanied by my faithful black lab "Guinness" set out for a leisurely paddle on Section 12 of the great Yadkin River. The paddle started at Yadkin Island park access just a few miles north of the small town of East Bend, NC (Named for the right angle turn the river makes around the town). We quickly entered the Pilot Mountain State Park and the shoals that are indicative of these plutons. At 2.5ft on the USGS gauge downstream, these shoals were unthreatening except for having to walk a few of them for low water. Guinness didn't mind, he was ready for a romp in the water either way. At higher water, one would have to respect these shoals simply based on the continuous layout and variety they present.
Below the park, the river cleared, widened, and slowed to a smooth current with occasional riffles. We shared the section with a couple groups of young folks making their way down the river on a warm August afternoon. The scenery although not spectacular was pleasant and peaceful. Most of the banks were wooded with some evidence of agriculture. About 3/4 through the trip the river pools up into about a mile of backwater. Progress took a bit more effort, but it was well worth it flushing 3 pairs of wood ducks from deadfalls near the bank. One hen allowed us to get within about 15yds before she came squealing out to the brush.
The paddle ended at the Donnaha Bridge at a well laid out park with easy access. About 3.5 hours had passed since we first wet our paddles.
All and all the Yadkin is a river with much history and character with few challenges even for novice paddlers. But challenge isn't the reason to go out on the Yadkin, go out just for the sake of paddling.
Primitive camping is available at several places along the river especially in the PMSP section.
From Winston Salem take NC 67 East until you cross the Donnaha bridge (the take out park is on the right after the bridge). Set up shuttle and proceed to the put in further East on 67. As you enter East Bend, bear right then follow signs to Yadkin Island Park.
"A Paddler's Guide to Eastern NC"
Bob Benner/Tom McCloud