I was a little skeptical that anything in this area could be comparable to the Upper Gauley but we paddled this on 4/25/17 at 9.5ft, and this run at this high flood stage level is legit! The Upper Gauley comparison is accurate and definitely scary with how high the water gets up in the trees. By far the most fun you can have kayaking in Durham if you are up to it! But be aware that there are no eddies and a swim at this flow would be very bad!
It is possible to run the gorge and carry back to the put-in. There is a goat trail on river left, at the last rapid with the rock wall on the right, that leads you up along the ridge back to Johnson Mill Rd. I have done it once. It's about a twenty minute hike. Not particularly enjoyable but very doable.
Actually, the trail is on river right and you can access it after the bottom of the second big drop from the big eddy. It is a fairly straight forward hike back up the river with some houses on your left. If the river is running really high, the trail will be under water. It is not uncommon for local boaters to get in a bunch of laps without even going to the take-out!
This run is not 1.5 miles if you put in from South Lowell Road. There are two put-ins. One is Johnston Mills Rd and from that bridge to the takeout may be about 1.5 miles. However if you put in from South Lowell Rd, the trip is more like 5 or 6 miles. The best rapids were after Johnston Mills Rd, but the first stretch is worthwhile if the river is running above 3 feet.
There are several nasty strainers on this river. Be careful.
Here is the deal on the permits required to run the Little. (OK, they are't strictly required to run it, but they are required to use the lake for the takeout. I pity the fool who would try to take out without going over the lake).
The permits are $5 and are good for one year. You can get them from the boathouse by turning right onto Orange Factory Road from 501N then turning right into the boat house once you've crossed the lake.
Here is the official website http://www.ci.durham.nc.us/departments/parks/lakes.cfm
The best shuttle is to turn right out of the takeout area, turn right on Preston Andrews Rd., then right onto Johnston Mill Rd. Parking is not allowed at the bridge, so you'll have to move your vehicles up the road a ways once you've unloaded your boats.
One thing to keep in mind about this
run is that walking things can be
difficult. The trails beside the river,
where there are any, are sparse and
badly overgrown. Scouting, if you need
to, is pretty rough is places too.
Also, a lot of the rapids are some
weird kind of carved boulder jumbles,
so the lines are pretty technical.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Brad on river left boof
Eric boof @ 4.5 ft
Randy on Little
upstream @ 5ft
Little @ about 5 ft
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