Paddle Trails

Canoeing Regulations and Safety Tips

Cool morning, quiet river.

Safety Equipment Checklist
  • Flotation Gear. (Regulations require Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device for each occupant.)
  • First Aid Kit. Add insect repellent and sunscreen.
  • Extra paddle
  • Bow and stern lines
  • Flashlight and extra bulbs

    Allow Enough Time
  • Allow two miles per hour canoeing time under normal river conditions.
  • Driving and shuttling time is extra.

    Know the Water
  • Check recent and predicted weather conditions.
  • Find out about river conditions - flooded, low, or normal.
  • A flooded river is often dangerous and should not be canoed.
  • A low river may expose logs and stumps, requiring many liftovers or portages, which make the trip slower and more difficult.
  • Coastal streams are affected by wind tides which can create flow in both directions.
  • Windy conditions can affect canoes and small boats - especially on wide coastal rivers.

    Play it Safe
  • Secure your car and take keys with you.
  • Canoe in a group or with a buddy.
  • Watch for motorboats and yachts. Stay to the right and turn the bow into the wake.
  • Let someone know your plans - where you are canoeing and when you plan to be back.
  • Place food and gear in water-tight containers and tie them securely to the canoe.
  • Don't overload the canoe or small boat. Avoid horseplay.
  • Carry drinking water.

    Respect Property
  • Don't litter or pollute the water with trash or other waste.
  • Don't cut living trees or harass animals.
  • Be careful with campfires. Use cookstoves when possible.
  • Access to private land should be by invitation only.
  • Camp only in designated areas to avoid trespassing.

    For Boating and Fishing Regulations Contact:
    North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
    Phone: (919) 733-3391
    NC WRS Website: -
    512 North Salisbury Street
    Raleigh, NC 27604-1188

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