On Saturday, the public is invited to share a spring day on the beautiful Mayo River with the Dan River Basin Association. DRBA’s First Saturday Outing will float six miles from Anglin Mill to NC 770 near Stoneville, North Carolina.
Meeting at 10 a. m. at Old Anglin Mill Road (GPS 36.5296, -79.9894), downstream from Anglin Mill Bridge, the group will float past portions of the Mayo River State Park.
Coordinator for the trip is expert boater Mark Bishopric, a long-time member of DRBA’s Outings Task Force and frequent trip coordinator.
“Beginning paddlers are invited to launch below Mayo Beach for a fairly easy float through mostly Class 1 waters,” says Bishopric. “There’s one tricky rapid just below the put-in that can be avoided by putting in downstream from it.”
Expert paddlers with a yen for more thrills will have the option of running the famous “Boiling Hole” and the “S-turn” (alias “Blender”) before proceeding with the rest of the trip.
Otherwise the most excitement comes from navigating small rapids through several 1,000-year-old fish weirs created in the river by Native Americans and used by local residents until about 1900.
“The vee-shaped stone fish weirs concentrated migrating fish at the point of the vee, where they were collected in nets or baskets,” said North Carolina historian Lindley Butler, who has studied the history of the region.
Great spawning runs of Atlantic fish, such as shad, herring and striped bass, came from the ocean up the Roanoke and Dan into the Mayo River and its tributaries, where the fish laid their eggs and headed back downstream. For centuries, until dams stopped the fish migrations, people who lived near the river made huge catches that fed their communities or provided a living.
Nowadays, the fish weirs provide routes through shallow water, enhancing the interest of the float.
Portions of the land along this section of the river are part of North Carolina’s Mayo River State Park. The state park is planning a formal river access in the area of the 770 Bridge, where the group will exit the river.
“The Mayo River is one of the region’s great treasures,” added Butler, one of DRBA’s founders who helped secure the Mayo River State Park designation. “The unspoiled beauty of the river, with forested banks, wildlife, birds and few signs of civilization make it a perfect get-away within easy reach of Piedmont North Carolina and Virginia.”
At this time of year, watch for wildflowers in bloom, including pink wild azalea along the edge of the water. Layers of azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron climb the banks to a thick forest cover. Songbirds migrating through or claiming nesting territory will join waterfowl, such as ducks, herons and kingfishers, along the route.
Participants in the outing are asked to bring boat, life jacket for each boater, lunch and water, to dress in layers of wool or artificial (quick-drying) fabric and to sign a waiver. Expect the water to be cool at this time of year and be prepared to get wet.
DIRECTIONS: To reach the put-in at Old Anglin Mill Road (GPS 36.5296, -79.9894), from US 220 north of Stoneville, exit onto Smith Road (SR 1360) and turn west. Go four miles to a T-intersection with Anglin Mill Road (SR 1358). Turn left onto Anglin Mill Road and travel about a half-mile to within less than a mile of the Anglin Mill Bridge over the Mayo. Turn left onto unpaved Old Anglin Mill Road (SR 1385). Go one-half mile to a T-intersection with Mayo Beach Road (SR 1359).
For more information about the outing, contact trip coordinator Mark Bishopric at 336-634- 9744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outings and meetings of the Dan River Basin Association are open to the public without charge.