Floated on 4/20/2013 at 4.5 ft at Ebeneezer Gauge in a Sea Eagle Fast Track. Late start but I thought we could make it from Old Reedy Creek Rd to Lassiter Mill Falls before dark, I was mistaken. The strainers and sweepers through Umstead are plentiful. A better float would be to put in at the Ebeneezer Bridge and float to Lassiter Mill, that way you would avoid almost all strainers. As darkness fell we realized we had set an unreasonable goal. As the street lamps of Crabtree Valley Mall guided us through the darkness we contemplated pushing on. Right before the bridge that goes under Glenwood we decided it would be far too dark and dangerous to continue. A lone gray rock river right beckoned for me to step on it and end the miserable journey, so I did. We grabbed our gear and walked up the bank to see the BP gas station and cars. I managed to hitchhike to Lassiter Mill with some hippy chick who did hot yoga, many thanks again for the ride! I drove the truck back to the small parking lot across from the BP and picked up my friend and the gear. By the time I got back to the put in at Old Reedy Creek it was 9:45 and I was exhausted. A Cary cop drove by, but we were gone before they turned around, probably just making sure no one was still stuck out in the woods. Final thoughts, the otters, coyotes, and beavers were cool, but I thought we would never make it and technically we never did actually make it. Save yourself the trouble and take a trip to the Haw, or anywhere else for that matter. River 1 - Us 0
Did this run on 05/07/09 at about 5.5'. We (myself and my crew of one) used an Intex Seahawk Sport 400 inflatable boat - The Regnus Zandt. The whole trip took about 5.5 hours with necessarily lengthy breaks. We did four or five carries for trees and other blockages, and dragged it over half a dozen more downed trees (while precariously balanced on sometimes floating logs). If the water had been half a foot higher there would have been many more. There is neat rapid in the beginning by the quarry, where the creek squeezes to the left of a big rock and then to the right of another. After you enter the park (you will see a series of cliffs and overhangs on river left) there is another small set of rapids around a sharp bend to the northeast which probably doesn't exist at higher flows. There is a longer set of riffles and easy rapids before you have to get out at the footbridge. There is a major blockage there. The Company Mill Rapid is fun, though we got into a rock or two at the end of it. Everything beyond that is basically flat and the carry/drag situation does not improve. I would run this every week if I could convince my crew (girlfriend) that we should take out at Company Mill Dam and hike the boat out. This is a good run for proving you're a real man, or highly eccentric, as it's more work than fun and no one really does it. The creek will take you pretty far away from civilization, especially in the second half, while still being very much surrounded by it. I might do this again one day, but by hiking out after the last rapid. -Zeke (zeke73sg at aim dot com)
News & Observer
Taking on trees, trash and trepidation
Josh Shaffer - Staff Writer
Published: Wed, Apr. 08, 2009 08:10AM
I've paddled the Haw, the Neuse, the Deep, the Cape Fear and the Eno, but my favorite stretch of water by far runs for five miles down sewage-scented, garbage-strewn, logjam-choked Crabtree Creek.
You won't find a lot of kayaks on the Crabtree.
At one end, there's Cary's wastewater treatment plant, and if the warning signs about PCBs in the fish don't scare you off, the frothy yellow mixture floating on the surface might make you strap your boat back on the Subaru.
Worse, as the creek winds through Raleigh, it's common to find plastic bags and other trash hanging from the tree branches -- leftovers from the latest flood.
But for five miles, Crabtree Creek takes a beautiful spin through William. B. Umstead State Park, a section so untouched and hard-to-reach you'll see more otters than human beings.
For about a year, I'd been wanting to try this piece of the Crabtree. I'd jogged along the greenway from Raleigh Boulevard to Crabtree Valley Mall -- in some of the leafier spots, you can get a idea of what the creek looked like before the city lined it with parking lots.
I'd heard about coyotes along the Umstead banks and more herons, deer and otters than you could count. But I'd also heard about the trees -- fallen trunks thicker than telephone poles that block the creek from bank to bank, stacking up to form 20-foot barriers.
I could imagine trying to drag my canoe up the steep Crabtree banks, slippery as pudding, or getting wedged inside the branches of a toppled sycamore with rapids bubbling around my neck. It didn't sound like a leisurely day, especially after finding this warning from a paddler online:
"The stream is simply choked in MANY places with downed trees and sweeper/strainers galore. You want to see my black eye?"
So it took a while to work up the gumption. My Crabtree ambition stayed dormant until last Thursday, when the weather was miserable and wet, and I was feeling ornery enough to fight a cantankerous creek.
I borrowed a lightweight Dagger kayak from my sportswriter friend Javi and started meditating on Edward Abbey's description of the Utah desert. This line about the Canyonlands country was particularly inspiring: "... the least inhabited, least developed, least improved, least civilized, most arid, most hostile, most lonesome, most grim, bleak, barren, desolate and savage quarter of the state of Utah -- the best part by far.''
The Crabtree run begins off Old Reedy Creek Road, where Cary treats its wastewater and thousands of cars roar past on Interstate 40. There's a quarry on the right bank, so for the first half-mile, you hear the drone of heavy machinery backing up.
At five feet, water in the Crabtree is just high enough to carry a kayak the full five miles without dragging bottom, and low enough to pass safely under most of the massive oaks.
I hit my first barrier after about five minutes on the water, and it wasn't too dramatic. I just swung my leg over the tree trunk, sat on top and pulled the kayak into the clear. In four hours, I repeated this process nine times. Just once, I had to park the boat in foot-deep mud and drag it around a logjam as tall as a movie screen.
It's exhausting on the Crabtree. No lie. You get so wet that your fingertips wrinkle, and so muddy that you'll spend four days fishing grit and sand out of your ears.
But there's nothing like the Crabtree in Raleigh, and not much like it in Wake County. My favorite section on the Neuse runs between Poole and Mial Plantation roads but even there, you'll see plastic cups floating past and the backs of houses showing on the banks.
Through Umstead, the banks are cratered with otter holes. They swim right past your boat, sleek and whiskered. You'll paddle so close to great blue herons that you can see the pupils in their wide eyeballs.
And at five feet, you'll hit two or three sets of Class II rapids, one of them right under the bridge of the Company Mill dam.
In four hours, the only people I saw on Crabtree Creek were crossing that bridge, and they all stopped to look at the little boat bouncing over the rocks, wondering where it had been, and where it was going.
The park ends abruptly at Ebenezer Church Road. As I pulled the boat to shore, I was greeted by large real estate signs announcing the construction of new homes starting at $800,000.
Just then, I noticed the sewage smell again.
Paddled this section (at 37cfs/3.6ft) and then continued to take out at US 70 bridge. The run through Umstead is beautiful, and gives you access to parts of the park few people see. The Piedmont Beech Natural Area has been closed to foot traffic for a while, but the creek will take you right past some amazing giants. Wildlife is abundant as well. Saw dozens of deer, otters, and one coyote. The downed trees were numerous however. Singles could be dragged over or snuck under, but there were many full on logjams that had to be portaged around. Steep banks make this almost impossible in some sections, leaving the alternative of roping your boat up and over from the opposite side of the jam. High flows make this a dicey proposition at best. At 37 cfs/3.6 ft the run can be boney in some places, but many of the trees can be paddled under. This 5.3 mile section took almost 6 hours, including lunch. A lot of work, but worth the very secluded paddle in the middle of the RDU area. From Ebeneezer Church bridge to Duraleigh Rd., the scenery is almost as nice but with less wildlife. From Duraleigh Rd. to Crabtree Valley Mall the amount of trash increases. Take out at Ebeneezer. I don't know if taking out at Duraleigh is possible.
Possible playhole/wave where the hiking trail crosses the creek, fluffy looking at 400cfs.
Runnable after a good rainfall near RDU airport
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