Paddle Trails

Watauga County's Wonderful Headwaters

Watauga County is home to the headwaters of two major rivers, the New and the Watauga. Three forks of the New River join together near the Boone Greenway and start flowing North, the wide, shallow river winding slowly through pastoral landscapes, wildflowers, and mountain scenery. Meanwhile, the Watauga River starts flowing on Grandfather Mountain before it travels through historic Valle Crucis and gains speed and complexity as it flows west into Watauga Lake. 

A self-guided paddling adventure on the water is a classic way to spend a summer day in the High Country. 

Watauga River Paddle Trail

Originating on the slopes of Grandfather and Sugar Mountains, the Watauga River flows... LEARN MORE

New River Paddle Trail

Five sections of the New River Paddle Trail offer slow and peaceful waters and... LEARN MORE


CAUTION: Local weather conditions can drastically affect water flow. Plan and prepare for any water excursions by checking river flow rates from USGS water gauges in the area. Be aware of mandatory portages and low-water bridges, where exiting the river is required. 

Check in with the Swim Guide to find water quality information at various river accesses in the area.


River Guide Services

Let the experts take care of everything

One of the area's expert guides can help you find the right equipment and provide transportation for a day of paddling on the river, whether you're looking to raft on whitewater, canoe, kayak, or paddle board. 


Wahoo's is the two-time winner of the "Outfitter of the Year" by professional... GO HERE

With over 25 years of experience in guiding adventurous travelers to some of the... GO HERE

Located in the historic Todd train depot. Full service fly fishing... GO HERE

Whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, year-round caving, hiking, guided day... GO HERE

Experience a new Appalachian Mountain adventure with Hawksnest - whitewater... GO HERE

Edge of the World provides whitewater rafting and kayaking, as well as climbing,... GO HERE

Appalachian Tubing Co. offers everything you need for a river tubing adventure,... GO HERE



Be sure to take the time to plan ahead before a tubing adventure. Have a transportation plan, bring a dry bag for any belongings and snacks, & be prepared to exit the water to go around low bridges along the river. Always be respectful of landowners, wildlife, and others enjoying the water. Never stack rocks by the river to protect precious habitats for rare salamanders. 

As always, Make It Your Nature to follow the 7 Outdoor NC Principles when outside near fragile river ecosystems.