PADDLE AND WALKING TRAILS
Near the center of Rocky Mount the Parks & Recreation Department oversees a system of parks, trails, and arts and recreational facilities. The 3.9 mile Tar River Walking/Biking Trail runs along its namesake river from Sunset Park in the west to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in the east. In between, the trail passes through several city landmarks, including Battle Park. To the north of the river near the junction of US Highway 64 and N. Church Street is the Rocky Mount Sports Complex and Athletic Stadium. South of the river on Church Street is the Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences and the Veterans Memorial at Jack Laughery Park. Additional trails in the area include the City Lake loop trail (walking) and the Martin Luther King Jr. Park loop and memorial trails (walking). In addition, the Department maintains a 20 mile paddle trail on the Tar River.
Tar River Walking/Biking Trail
The 3.9 mile Tar River Trail runs along its namesake river from Sunset Park in the west to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in the east. In between, the trail passes through several city landmarks, including Battle Park.
Tar River Paddle Trail
Explore the waterways of Rocky Mount on the Tar River Paddle Trail. The trail is comprised of ten canoe and kayak access locations that connect over 20 miles of the Tar River and Stony Creek.
The green rectangles marked NC, UT, LT, and TT on the map above correspond to the large trail maps noted as Nash County, Upper Tar, Lower Tar, and Tarboro respectively (shown below). The red rectangle shown on the large maps marks the exclusion zone above the Tar Falls dam. See the map legend for details.
Old Bailey Highway to NC Highway 58
Mile 88.5 to mile 94.5
The Nash County section may be accessed via the following access locations: Old Bailey Highway Access and Highway 58 Access. Paddlers seeking a remote section of flat water may consider paddling this area. Jacob's Swamp, located at Mile 93, is accessible by a small cut on river left. This section of the river is just above the Rocky Mount reservoir; occasional motor boat traffic may be encountered.
Rocky Mount Reservoir Dam to Peachtree Street
Mile 100 - mile 108.5
The Upper Tar section may be accessed via the following access locations: Reservoir Dam, Lamon's Ferry, Nashville Road, Sunset Park and Peachtree Street. The route is highlighted by the Davenport grist mill dam, multiple small rapids (I-II), rural farmland and Sunset Park located along the route.
The Davenport grist mill dam is located approximately 1.25 miles downstream from the Reservoir Dam access. Extreme caution should be used when approaching the grist mill dam and portaging the dam to the river right is highly recommended. This area is not public property and paddlers should respect private property. Depending on water level, small rapids (I-II) may be encountered between Lamon's Ferry access and Nashville Road access. Paddlers should stay within their ability, and scout and portage as necessary. Occasional motor boat traffic may be encountered between Nashville Road and Peachtree Street. Paddlers should portage at the Peachtree Street access.
No paddle craft are allowed in the exclusion zone between Falls Road and the Rocky Mount Mills Dam. Paddlers should portage this area via the Peachtree Street access and the Tar River Trail. Caution and appropriate scouting should be used for re-entry during high water as the rock garden below the dam can be extremely hazardous.
Battle Park to Dunbar NC Wildlife Boat Ramp
Mile 108.5 - Mile 124.5
The Lower Tar may be accessed via the following access locations: Battle Park, Neville Lane, Hwy 97 and NC Wildlife Boat Ramp at Dunbar. Paddlers may enjoy the history of Battle Park, Little Falls, rural scenery and small rapids along this route. If paddling in the Spring, paddlers may consider bringing a fishing rod, as American and Hickory shad as well as Striped bass end their migration along this route.
Depending upon water level, small rapids (I-II) may be encountered between Battle Park and Hwy 97 access locations. Paddlers should stay within their ability, and scout and portage as necessary.
Dunbar Road to Old Sparta Access Point
Edgewater Dr. to Sunset Park (Tar River)
Stony Creek may be accessed via the following access locations: Edgewater Drive, Country Club Cove and the Sunset Park access located on the Tar River. Stony Creek is truly a hidden gem winding throughout Rocky Mount, but paddling opportunities are limited due to low water conditions that exist during much of the year which require multiple portages. During high water, extreme caution should be used in the area between Winstead Road and Jones Road as a section of rapids (II+), followed by strainers may exist. This area may be observed from the Jones Road Bridge. Paddlers should stay within their ability, and scout and portage as necessary.
The City of Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department offers camping platforms located within the Rocky Mount Reservoir and Battle Park for non-profit and family use. Use of the camping platforms is by reservation only. Reservations can be made through the Parks and Recreation Department Office (252-972-1151) on a first come, first serve basis, not more than 6 months in advance, no less than one week in advance. Reservations must be made by individuals 18 years of age or older. Platforms are limited to 8 users. Platform users must follow appropriate policies and procedures. The City of Rocky Mount reserves the right to close the platforms at any time. Water levels may fluctuate greatly due to weather conditions and release of upstream dams. Platform rentals are from 2:00 pm on the first day to 1:00 pm on the last day.
Canoeing Regulations and Safety Tips
Safety Equipment Checklist
Allow Enough Time
Know the Water
Personal Flotation Devices (Life jackets)
First Aid Kit
Insect repellent and sunscreen
Bow and stern lines
Flashlight and extra bulbs
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 paddled.
A low waterway may expose logs and stumps, requiring many portages, which make the trip slower and more difficult.
Windy conditions can affect paddle craft.
Play it Safe
Let someone know your plans - where you are paddling and when you plan to be back.
Secure your car and take keys with you.
Paddle in a group or with a buddy.
Watch for motorboats. Stay to the right and turn the bow into the wake.
Place food and gear in water-tight containers and tie them securely to your craft.
Don't overload your paddle craft. Avoid horseplay.
Carry plenty of drinking water.
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 cook stoves when possible.
Access to private land should be by invitation only.
Do not block gates.