by Crystal Cockman
Back in late July, The LandTrust for Central NC hosted the Concord Wildlife Alliance on a kayak trip on the Rocky River. The Carolina Thread Trail has worked on their Rocky River Blueway project for several years, and now has six canoe/kayak launches located along its course. This is a great and little-known recreational resource in our region, full of beautiful scenery and unique wildlife to experience. The Carolina Thread Trail is under the auspices of Catawba Land Conservancy, based out of Charlotte.
The northernmost put-in along the Rocky River Blueway is located on the Pharr Family Preserve and is maintained by Catawba Land Conservancy, and this is where we put in for our trip. The address for this put-in is 9111 Mt Pleasant Road South, Midland NC 28107. The next launch is 4.5 miles downstream at the Riverbend Farm and is maintained by the Town of Midland, which is where we took out on our trip. The location of the take-out is 12150 McManus Road, Midland NC 28107. The river is not very large at this point, but there was plenty of water for our float and we only had to get out and pull boats through shallow areas a handful of times.
This was my first time doing this stretch of the river, and I enjoyed the trip. It’s a bit of a walk (about 300 yards) from the parking area to the put-in. However it is a nice trail and relatively flat, so it’s not a difficult trek. The take-out is located much closer to the parking area. For most of the float, it was a leisurely paddle with no fast-moving or rocky areas. Near the end we did encounter some rapids, but they were not too difficult to navigate.
We were happy to host the Concord Wildlife Alliance on this trip. The mission of the Concord Wildlife Alliance is to protect, conserve, and restore wildlife and habitat in the greater Concord area. They are a part of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Since 1945, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation has worked for all wildlife and habitat, bringing together citizens, outdoor enthusiasts, hungers and anglers, government and industry to protect North Carolina’s natural resources. They are a nonprofit working from the Great Smokey Mountains to the Outer Banks. They work through policy and protection work, research and education, and direct hands-on conservation projects.
There’s not another put-in on the Rocky River Blueway south of Riverbend Farm for about 18 miles, which is too far of a stretch for one day for most people. There is also nowhere to camp along the way. I have written before about doing a section of the river starting at Riverbend Farm and taking out on a private property with permission, and that stretch was full of wildlife, including deer, turkey, herons and egrets. The Thread Trail is actively working to secure a location in-between to put a launch, but have not done so yet. The next put-in is Oakboro Blueway Park I, which is 7 miles upstream of Oakboro Blueway Park II. The next put-in is Plank Road, which is 10 miles from Oakboro Blueway Park II. I have also done the stretch a couple of times from Plank Road to the next take-out in Norwood (which is approximately 5.5 miles), and is located on Riverview Road a few hundred feet from the intersection with Highway US 52. It is also a nice section of river and a good length for beginning paddlers.
So whether you live in Cabarrus, Stanly, or Montgomery counties, it’s not a far distance to drive to a great stretch of the Rocky River, thanks to the efforts of Catawba Lands Conservancy and the Carolina Thread Trail, and several municipalities along the way who maintain canoe/kayak access areas.
For more information about the Concord Wildlife Alliance, you can contact them at email@example.com. They hold monthly meetings the first Tuesday of the months of Sept.- May. They meet at 6:15 pm. at McGill Baptist Church, 5300 Poplar Tent Road, Concord, NC 28027. The next meeting is Oct. 3 at which Bill Leake will present a program on trees: “Right Tree in the Left Place.”
To join, go to www.ncwf.org and scroll down to “Become a Member.” Click “Join NCWF” and when prompted to “Join a chapter”, be sure to select Concord Wildlife Alliance on the drop down menu. (There is a link to this website on the CWA website.) Anyone is welcome to attend the meetings or events.