Long days and warmer nights means that camping season is officially upon us. And even if there isn’t time to take a full vacation just yet, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of those glorious 55 hours after work on Friday, before you have to be back on Monday. Our Favorite? Paddle-in camping with the K-PAK.
Here in the South, everyone camps; Whether you’re a tent-camper, full-on glamper, or a backpacker on the Appalachian trail, the perfect weekend trip is waiting on you. Here are some of our favorites.
1.The Bluff (Landing) – Hamilton, NC
At 15 miles in, this trip is not for the faint of heart. (Don’t worry, there is also car/foot access if everyone’s paddle muscles are not quite ready yet). Located on the Roanoke River, your journey will be filled with views of the gorgeous backdrop of green, leafy vegetation. Upon arrival to your pad, you’ll be welcomed by a boardwalk that leads up to your cabin, furnished and featuring a floating air porch. This little getaway will give you workout and plenty of space to relax all weekend with your favorite glamper.
2. Wekiwa Springs – Apopka, Fla.
This Florida State Park comes with activities for the whole family: a swimming hole fed by a natural spring, opportunities for self-guided paddling on the Wekiwa River and Rock Springs Run, as well as hiking and bike paths. The cool, clear water provides a great opportunity to see Florida wildlife including fish, turtles, snakes and alligators. Camping sites are available in all varieties, including group sites. Pack your boat and cool off in the Florida heat without going to the beach!
3. Crooked River State Park – St. Mary’s, Ga.
If you’re a seasoned paddler looking to test your skills, Crooked River Park is located on a tidal river and is a bit more challenging that your average float. Enjoy 3-4 miles of paddling through lush greenery, while you keep your eyes peeled for dolphins on any of the three kayak trails. Guided tours are available, but if you’re looking for peaceful paddle all on your own, this salt marsh will not disappoint. The park offers cottage and tent rentals as well as primitive sites for campers.
4. Stephen C. Foster State Park – Fargo, Ga.
Located in the mouth of the Okefenokee Swamp, The Stephen C. Foster State Park is an 80-acre park on the banks of the Suwannee River. If you’re a wildlife photographer, this is the place for you. Teeming with turtles, black bears, raccoons, impressive alligators and more, this is your chance to get up close and personal with the natives. The park offers both cottages and campsites, 18 miles from the nearest town of Fargo, Ga.
5. Henry Horton State Park – Chapel Hill, TN
Drop in at Henry Horton State Park and take on the Duck River as a day trip or for a full weekend with options to float, boat or kayak to the campground and stay for a night, or two! There are options for 5 or nine mile self-guided trips, or if you have your own equipment enjoy the opportunity to explore at your leisure. For a longer trip (approx. 16 miles), consider dropping in at Halls Mill and paddling to Henry Horton State Park.
6. Cheoah River– Robbinsville, NC
If thrills are your game, check out the Cheoah River in Western North Carolina. Featuring class IV and V rapids, this run is full of whitewater, and sure to get your heart pumping. A dam-controlled river, you should check with the TVA before you go, so you can know when the river will be raging! The nine mile run features plenty of drops, boulder fields, challenging currents and a few big holes. The good news- the lower run takes you straight by the Tapoco Lodge where you can stay and grab a bite to eat!
7. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge – Suffolk, VA
Rapids not your thing? The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge offers flatwater paddling at its finest. Lake Drummond boasts 3,100 acres of water as one of Virginia’s only natural lakes. Drop in at the Great Dismal Boat Ramp on U.S. 17 and paddle 3.5 miles on the Dismal Canal to the edge of Lake Drummond. From there, paddle to the lake’s center to find the The Lake Drummond Reservation, a canoe-only campground. Spend the rest of the weekend exploring the lake by boat, or take one of the many available hiking trails.
8. Greenbrier River – West Virginia
A tributary of the New River, this river is one of the longest free flowing rivers in the Southeast at 158 miles. Because of it’s length, we feel comfortable dubbing Greenbrier River more than a weekend trip, if you have time to try to conquer it all. One of the biggest bonuses of this run is that it is situated snugly against the Greenbrier River Rail Trail, giving paddlers easy access to primitive campsites, restrooms, and fresh drinking water throughout the journey.
9. Devils Fork State Park (Lake Jocassee) – Oconee / Pickens counties, SC
A 7,500-acre, 300-foot deep man-made reservoir, Lake Jocassee is an easy sell to sightseers who are interested in the area’s many waterfalls and private coves along the banks. Campers are welcome in Devils Fork State Park, located on the northern shores of Lake Jocassee. Short on time or stamina? Drive up to your site and take a day trip out onto the lake.
10. Peace River – Southwest Fla.
At the juncture of Saddle Creek and Peace Creekz Northeast of Bartow in Polk County, the Peace River Flows for 106 miles through Southwest Florida. Peace River offers an official canoe and kayak trail of over 70 miles underneath a canopy of Spanish Trees. When you’re not in the water, Peace River Campground offers more than 100 acres available for wilderness camping. Campgrounds are available by boat or by foot.
Those are our favorite places to paddle and camp, and we hope to be making many, many 55-hour excursions throughout camping season. The best part about all of them? Our K-PAK folding boat is the ideal vessel! Check it out HERE!
Where is your favorite place to paddle in a sleep under the stars?