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Cool Off from the Summer Heat With These Weekend Water Escapes

By Joe Miller | June 25, 2015 | Explore NC

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It looks like there might just be an end to this relentless heat: the forecast for much of the state on Sunday does not suggest another day in the Amazon. Still, the summer heat is here and we’re not exactly looking at getting out the fleece. Rather, it looks like a good weekend to grab a paddle and check out a free guided trip at one of our North Carolina State Parks.

Be it Funyaking at Cliffs of the Neuse, jumping the official weekend start on the Yadkin at Pilot Mountain, or plying the cool waters of Lake James in the state park of the same name, being on the water works just as well in hot and not-as-hot weather.

Image: NC State Parks
Image: NC State Parks


Funyaking: What is that, like eating fried onion treats in a boat? No. It’s having fun in a kayak. More fun, perhaps, than a paddler should have. Certainly the kind of fun that would appeal to paddlers 10 and up. Borrow a boat from the park, head out onto the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park 11-acre lake on Saturday morning, play kayak games, get wet. Sounds like a good way to start the weekend, no?

You can read more about Funyaking at GetGoingNC.

Image: NC Parks
Image: NC Parks


Along about Thursday afternoon, we start thinking hard about the weekend. Sometimes too hard, to the point that Friday is an unproductive blur of anticipation. So why not put Friday to good use by sneaking out early for a canoe trip on the Yadkin River near Pilot Mountain State Park? Six and a half miles of mellow paddling, through the Bean Shoals area and past several small islands, all in the shadow of mighty 2,421-foot Jomeokee — the Big Pinnacle.

If it sounds up your alley, head on over here for more details.

Image: NC Parks
Image: NC Parks


How proud is park superintendent Nora Coffey of Lake James State Park? So proud that she wants to personally take you on a tour of Lake James via canoe. Starting at 9 a.m. from the Paddy’s Creek area, Superintendent Coffey will lead an exploration of this 6,812-acre lake fed by the cold waters of the Linville River. No boat? No problem. While you’re welcome to bring your own, she’s got six boats to lend.

Escape on the lake?

And if you’re interested in getting out on a local waterway but can’t make any of the above events and don’t have a boat, check’s list of places to rent a canoe or kayak or standup paddleboard in North Carolina. We’ve got 56 spots across the state where you can escape on the water for as little as $5 an hour.

Every Thursday, we team with our friends at to offer suggestions on how you can have an active weekend. We offer ideas for the coast, the Piedmont and the mountains that cover a range of activities, from running and hiking to paddling, biking and more. For more information on the events listed, as well as for additional options for the weekend, visit

[Top image: Shutterstock]