River Gauge

Understanding River Gauge

River gauges measure water level and water flow. This information can be used to determine the safety and comfort level of paddling at a given time. Although the Haw River is a wonderful river to paddle under normal conditions, it is subject to extreme changes in water level and flow amounts during periods of rain or drought. During high water events, the Haw River is extremely dangerous. The photo above shows the Glencoe Dam during flood stage. The Haw River is considered to be at flood stage when it reaches 18 feet. For perspective, the maximum safe water level recommended for most sections is only 4 to 6 feet!

In the section of the Haw that passes through Alamance County, gauges are located in three places- Reedy Fork, Haw River, and Bynum. Rough guidelines for safe minimum and maximum water levels for each section are listed in the guide below.

Immediately prior to your trip: Check the USGS river gauge at either Haw River or Bynum for the section you plan to paddle (please see the guide below).

These levels are not one size fits all. Use your judgement before leaving. If the river feels too dangerous for you, postpone your trip.

River Section Gauges

River SectionGaugeMinimum Water Level (feet)Maximum Water Level (feet)Relative Difficulty
Brooks Bridge to AltamahawReedy Fork0.75Moderately Difficult
Altamahaw Paddle Access to Shallow Ford Natural AreaHaw River2.54.0Moderately Difficult
Shallow Ford Natural Area to Indian ValleyHaw River2.04.0Least Difficult
Indian Valley/Glencoe to Red Slide ParkHaw River2.254.0Moderately Difficult
Red Slide Park to Graham Paddle AccessHaw River1.74.0Least Difficult
Graham Paddle Access to Swepsonville River ParkHaw River1.74.0Least Difficult
Great Alamance Creek Paddle Access to Swepsonville River ParkHaw RiverNone4.0Least Difficult
Swepsonville River Park to Saxapahaw Lake Paddle AccessHaw RiverNone4.0Least Difficult
Saxapahaw Mill Race Paddle Access to Union Bridge Paddle Access or 15-501Haw River2.14.0Moderately Difficult
Bynum Beach to Hwy 64Bynum3.35.7Moderately Difficult
Hwy 64 to Robeson Creek/Jordan LakeBynum4.05.7Difficult