Altamahaw to Shallow Ford Natural Area

Altamahaw Paddle Access

2996 North NC Hwy 87, Elon, NC 27244


Shallow Ford Natural Area

1955 Gerringer Mill Road, Elon, NC 27244

Downstream from Altamahaw:
Distance: 2.7 miles/2.0 hours
Difficulty: Advanced
Minimum USGS Gauge Level: 2.5 ft at Haw River

Here’s a fun stretch for the more experienced paddler. There’s a Class I right off the bat, which Paul Ferguson, author of Paddling Eastern North Carolina, says is a true test of whether there’s enough water to run this 2.7-mile stretch. The real fun comes a half mile in, just after the Haw passes beneath Hub Mill Road. There, you’ll find a significant drop. To the right of a small island, Class II water funnels through a rock garden. To the left, a tongue of water slides over boulders into a mill race channel, at the bottom of which is a turn right. In less than a half mile you’ll hit two more stretches of Class I water.

About a mile of excitement-free water passes before you hit a 100-yard stretch of Class I and riffle water. In good water, this is a fun rip; if the water’s low, if you failed to heed the warning at the put-in, you’re in for some bottom scraping. At mile 2.3 is a take-out, river left, for a canoe camp at Shallow Ford Natural Area. Campsites are located within a few hundred feet of the take-out. If you’re continuing downstream, there’s another Class I just below the take-out.

This is a good stretch for a paddler with Class I experience who’s eager to take on a Class II. If you’re anxious about the Class II at Hub Mill Road, take out just above the bridge, river left, and walk up to the bridge to scout. The bridge’s proximity and elevation give a good and rare perspective to scout a rapid.