The perfect half-day paddle trip, with ample time to float, fish, bird watch, and still meet up with friends or work around the house. If you want a longer paddle, see the map below for an optional 4.8 mile loop off the main trail.
Paddle this loop in the spring to see numerous active osprey nests and flowers. Summer is hot with water warm; you’ll find some shade, but you’ll need to seek it out. Fall paddling here offers subtle colors, greens to light oranges and then dusty brown.
In daylight, the moss has antebellum charm as it sways in the wind. But on a moonlit night, its strands become creepy-looking tentacles, seemingly in wait to grab an unsuspecting paddler.
The Main Paddle Trail
~3.8 miles round trip | 2-3 hours
Who Should Paddle This Trail
This trail is for you if you:
- want a great spot for a moonlight paddle
- are looking for a quiet but good place to catch fish
- enjoy playing disc golf (there’s a course next to the park’s put-in)
- love seeing osprey
- like new paddles and cool historic towns like New Ber
The Trail Details
Paddle in a clockwise loop; this is the easiest way to find the right creek to explore.
From the ramp, head to your left/west. As you paddle, the park is on your left with towering cypress trees covered in Spanish moss lining the bank. Three houses are tucked back from the shoreline just past the park.
At the first creek (Blackman’s Creek, marked with buoys), take a left (somewhat southwest). After paddling 800ft, you’ll come up on Hatteras Yachts, an active factory. Passing the yachts via the narrowing creek leads to classic eastern North Carolina wetlands and a large lake, my favorite part of the trail.
Few spots in eastern North Carolina make me gasp in amazement but this lake, with an island of towering cypress trees layered in long strands of moss, did so. Paddle here under a full moon and you’ll likely see fairies flitting about.
Once you’ve spent enough time here, continue forward until you can take a right (east) and follow a canal back to the Neuse proper. If you head left at the canal, you’ll find good fishing and clear water at the terminus of the canal.
Once at the Neuse, cross the boat channel directly in front of you, heading north to the shallow waters on the other side of Marsh Island.
For a shorter trip, paddle the north side (the side you can’t see) of Marsh Island, heading back towards the boat ramp (to your right/east-ish). To continue the full loop, cross a branch of the Neuse towards the moored sailboats. Paddle close to the north shoreline to see birds and deer.
The second highlight of the trip (especially if you paddle in nesting season) is beyond the moored boats at the tiny island in the middle of the Neuse. Here you’ll find four or more active osprey nests – don’t get too close, you’ll cause the osprey to fly around you in alarm. See the ‘camera icon” on the map for the exact spot of the sailboats and osprey island.
Once you’ve had your fill of osprey calls, head back (southwest) to the boat ramp a half mile away.
What You’ll See
This trail surprised me. Most open-water paddles in eastern NC have only water to look at, but this trail has interesting side creeks, islands, and so many osprey.
The yacht factory makes for a neat rest point. You’ll see completed yachts and enormous molds used to create them.
Besides the four active nests (during breeding season) in the middle of the Neuse, the blackwater lake past the yacht factory is home to several other osprey nests.
The Local Knowledge To Make it Great
The ramp itself has no facilities but the park is heavily used, with multiple picnic shelters. Head towards the shelters if you need a restroom or water.
Because this paddle has some open water, if the winds pick up (over 12 mph) you’ll find plenty of waves.
Once on the water, you won’t find dry land. If you need to stretch your legs, find shallow water and get your feet wet.
Early spring offers the most bird viewing, but summer nights by full moons are stellar.
The fishing is good in shallow brackish water; your only competition is the large population of osprey in such a concentrated area.
Food & Drink
Outfitters & Clubs
To rent a SUP board, check out Stand Up Outfitters, with two locations in New Bern, one on land, one on the water.
To meet local paddlers, the Twin Rivers Paddle Club organize paddles almost every weekend.
- Boat Ramp GPS: 35.13967, -77.05998
- 312 Glenburnie Drive. Glenburnie Park, New Bern, NC 28560
Where to Stay
Downtown New Bern is home to several highly rated B&B’s on Trip Advisor as well as major chain hotels. There are two campgrounds somewhat close to the featured trail, and to other hiking and paddle trails.
Flanners Beach National Forest Service Campground
- GPS: 34.981881, -76.949462
- Phone: 252-638-5628
- Address: 300 Flanners Beach Road New Bern NC 28560
New Bern KOA
- GPS: 35.13658, -77.02792
- Address: 1565 B Street. New Bern, NC 28560
- Phone: 252-638-2556