Canoeing on the Tuckertown Reservoir

Riles Creek recreation area on the Tuckertown Reservoir.

In November, The LandTrust for Central North Carolina hosted its annual fall canoe trip, and this year the location was Riles Creek at Tuckertown Reservoir.  This recreational access is on Stokes Ferry Road, just a mile or so north of its intersection with N.C. 49, northeast of Richfield (see map below).  Tuckertown Reservoir is on the Yadkin-Pee Dee River, and as a lake with very little development is a fantastic place to paddle on open water.

I have driven past this access many times, making the trip from Asheboro to Salisbury, and noticed how pretty the spot was, but had never stopped to explore it before.  This is a wonderful little recreation spot and access, and the lake here is really interesting and picturesque.  Riles Creek at this point is backwater from Tuckertown Lake, and you can paddle upstream to where it narrows and transitions to a more natural creek.  There are some nice cove-like areas and some gorgeous rock outcrops with mountain laurel which I am sure would be absolutely stunning when they bloom in early May.

On the western side of Stokes Ferry Road is a nice grassy and forested area with several picnic benches and a pretty low-grade place to put in boats right by the bridge.  There’s also a sign on that side of the road marking the public access. It calls the spot “Royals Creek Recreational Access.”  In other places the area is referred to as Riles Creek, or Rials Creek, as well. Parking is somewhat limited here, but there is a small gravel parking area on the opposite side of the road and some room to park on the side of the road, as well.

It's a great location for a variety of outdoor activities. We spotted a number of interesting bird species, including great blue herons, kingfishers and several woodpeckers.  In early summer I am sure this would be a great place to catch a glimpse of a variety of neotropical migratory species, as well.  For fisherman, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website indicates it's a good spot to fish for largemouth bass, crappie, striped bass, sunfish, catfish, white bass and white perch.

Although I have a kayak and typically prefer them to canoes, for this trip our local Boy Scouts, Troop 442, provided us with canoes, and I took advantage of the opportunity to hone my canoeing skills. I like the way a kayak sits low in the water and feels stable, and how quickly they can cut through water and their ease of maneuvering, but for this particular paddle trip I really enjoyed the canoe.  On flat water like this, paddling upstream, I felt stable in the canoe and enjoyed the easy access to my water, camera and snacks.  Sitting up higher was also nice for taking in the landscape views and getting shots of other attendees enjoying the day on the water.

I still wouldn’t trade in my kayak, but I definitely enjoyed the canoe on this trip.  The beautiful day and fall leaves and chance to explore a new paddling spot made for a great outdoor experience. This lake and access are a little known treasure in our area that I certainly recommend and encourage you to explore on your next day out.

Crystal Cockman

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