WINSTON-SALEM — Registration opens April 1 for the 2016 Yadkin Riverkeeper tour of paddling experiences down North Carolina’s second longest river. Each year, Yadkin Riverkeeper connects thousands of people, including children, families and civic organizations, to the water and outdoors.
For the first time, this year’s tour kicks off with Paddle-A-Thon on May 21 at a new location, Childress Vineyards in Lexington. Paddling days in June take place in Winston-Salem and are sponsored by WFDD. Paddling in July takes place in Wilkes; and August is in Elkin. Major sponsors of the tour are Indera Mills, Childress Vineyards, WFDD-FM and WKZL-FM.
“The tour is our most important program all year,” said Will Scott, the Yadkin Riverkeeper. “Each weekend combines paddling the most beautiful stretches of the river with activities that allow paddlers to explore the communities that line its banks. We moved our signature, and most fun event — Paddle-A-Thon — to May so that we could be on the water in some of the best weather of the year. However, each weekend offers something new and exciting. We hope you bring your friends and families and join us.”
The tour features a series of daily paddles each weekend. Novice and experienced paddlers can register for all paddles or for just one day. Additional support for the Tour comes Carolina Heritage Vineyard and Winery, Christine Rucker Photography, Davidson Country TRIP, Foothills Brewing, Get:Outdoors, Great Outdoor Provision Co. and Waterkeeper Alliance.
• 2016 Paddle-A-Thon: May 21 at 9 a.m. at Childress Vineyards — The Paddle-A-Thon is Yadkin Riverkeeper’s biggest and most fun fundraiser of the year. People collect pledges to paddle 9.3 miles of the Yadkin River, starting and ending at the beautiful Childress Vineyards where there will be food, beverages, music by Joey Edwards & Co (light classic rock) and fun for the whole family. Novice and experienced paddlers can paddle as individuals or in teams with friends. Paddlers are encouraged to raise money from their friends to support the clean water efforts of Yadkin Riverkeeper to keep the Yadkin River fishable, swimmable and drinkable.
Registrations and pledges are accepted online at YadkinRiverkeeper.org which makes it easy to ask friends, family and coworkers to sponsor each paddler’s participation and to track their fundraising efforts. Paddlers with their own boats are charged a $20 fee to cover insurance, shuttle, processing fees and entry to the post-Paddle-A-Thon party. Since this is a fundraiser, paddlers are encouraged to raise a minimum of $50 ($20 entry fee plus $30+ from friends) to get a custom-designed buff and an all-access pass to the post-paddle family-friendly celebration. Raise even more money to qualify to win outdoor gear, trips and more.
• WFDD paddle weekend in Winston-Salem: June17-18 — This weekend, the TOUR celebrates paddling the Yadkin River around Winston-Salem. On Friday, June 17 at 1PM, join the WFDD Listener Paddle down the 6.9-mile corridor of Pilot Mountain State Park with WFDD celebrities and listeners. Enjoy this scenic and adventurous section of the river with Class I-II+ water. Paddlers will hone their skills on one of the most technical stretches of the Yadkin River (this paddle is not for beginners).
On June 18 at 1 p.m., WFDD-FM sponsors the paddle from Huntsville to Tanglewood Park in Clemmons (10.8 mi). This is a relaxing paddle that’s perfect for the whole family. Paddlers meet at Tanglewood Park.
The WFDD Weekend Summer Solstice Paddle and Potluck is June 19. Ken and Christine Putnam host this paddle that starts from the Putnam house at 3 p.m. for nine miles down the river. Then, settle into an evening of music by Gulley, Winston-Salem’s own rock band with a sound that’s a little old school, but refreshing enough to please rock lovers and laid-back toe-tappers. Everyone is encouraged to bring a potluck dish to share. During the evening there will be free beer, wine and food.
• A Weekend in Wilkes: July 15-16 — This weekend, the tour floats down one of the most scenic parts of the river around W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir in northwestern North Carolina. On July 15, the tour takes to the water to paddle and sup from Ferguson to Marley’s Ford Access (nine miles). There will be camping in the beauty of W. Kerr Scott Lake at Warrior Creek B. Paddlers meet at 1 p.m. at Keowee Park boat launch at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir. Camping is free, but space is limited, so registration is required.
The weekend continues on July 16 with a paddle from Tailwater to Smoot Park (7.1 miles) in W. Kerr Scott Lake. Paddlers meet at 1 p.m. at Smoot Park in North Wilkesboro.
• Paddle and jam in Elkin: Aug. 19-20 — This weekend is all about paddling and bluegrass music around Elkin, voted one of the “Best Small Towns in America.” On Aug. 19 at 1 p.m., join the 6.8-mile paddle from Ronda to Crater Park. This is the perfect paddle for a lazy summer afternoon.
On Aug. 20, paddle six miles from Crater Park to Mitchell River, followed by an evening of wine and bluegrass music at Carolina Heritage Vineyards. Paddlers meet at 1 p.m. at Carolina Heritage Vineyards.
How to sign up?
Each paddle day or event requires separate online registration at YadkinRiverkeeper.org or call 336-722-4949.
How much does it cost?
For all events, paddlers with their own boats are charged a $20 fee per person per day to cover insurance, shuttle, and processing fees. Yadkin Riverkeeper has negotiated preferred rates for paddlers needing to rent a boat: A kayak (holds one person) rents for an additional $28 per day or a canoe (holds two people) for an additional $44 per day. Camping is free, but requires registration.