June 1, 2012. The Tour de Yadkin, hosted by The Yadkin Riverkeeper, is an annual 185-mile paddling adventure of North Carolina’s largest river. From June 6 to 23, hundreds of paddlers are expected to participate in activities along the journey that are designed to showcase the beauty of this national treasure and to educate about environmental preservation issues that affect the river. The paddle is sponsored by REI Sports.
“We moved the paddle this year to June when school is out of session and more families might be able to participate,” said Dean Naujoks, the Yadkin Riverkeeper. “This is the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, so we’ve made the annual paddle even bigger and better than previous years because we want people to discover the beauty of this North Carolina resource and ways that doing just a little can make our waters more fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”
Starting at 10 a.m. on June 6, Naujoks will begin the annual paddle from W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir. Paddlers are invited to join Naujoks each day through June 23 to paddle for a few hours or join the festivities along the way. All events are Free (see YadkinRiverkeepr.org for restrictions); and paddlers should visit YadkinRiverkeeper.org for additional details, start times, paddling opportunities, rentals, lodging and restrictions.
In addition to the 7.1 mile paddle on June 6, a Historic Ghost Walk Tour will be hosted by Historian, R.G. Absher, from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Wilkes County Greenway. This is a highlight of the Tour de Yadkin with hair-raising tales of apparitions and spooky circumstances.
Continuing on June 8 at 1 p.m. is a 6.8 mile paddle from Ronda to Elkin for yoga, dinner and camping at Crater Park in Elkin. Local restaurants, including Harry’s Place, Heaven Scent, 21 Main, and Fiddler’s Pub will offer paddlers discounts on meals that evening. Rise the next morning (June 9) for breakfast at Heaven Scent from 7 to 8 a.m., then join a ceremony recognizing the achievements of Eagle Scouts at 8:30 a.m. Following the ceremony, the Boy Scouts will lead a 1-mile hike on the new Mountains to the Sea Trail that has been recently completed by the Elkin Valley Trails Association. At 9 a.m., the 5.7 mile paddle begins from Elkin to Carolina Heritage Winery for vineyard tour, wine tasting and bluegrass concert.
New overnight camping trips have been added throughout the paddle. From June 12 at 10 a.m. through June 13 at 4 p.m., a primitive overnight camping and paddle experience (18.7 miles) takes you from Rockford to Pilot Mountain to the “shoals” of Donnaha with beautiful scenery, bald eagles, campfires and storytelling in between.
A highlight of this year’s Tour de Yadkin is the first annual Paddle-a-Thon at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons on June 16 at 11 a.m.
“We’re excited about this new event during the paddle,” said Naujoks. “This is where people can really make an impact by raising funds to help preserve the river, and in doing so, they can win some terrific prizes.”
Participants who raise a minimum of $50 from their friends and family may paddle the 10.8 miles of river that day. People who raise the most money, solicit pledges from the most people, travel the farthest to paddle that day, are the most creatively dressed and have the best decorated boat can win spectacular prizes like helicopter rides, kayaks, Maui Jim sunglasses and more.
Food and drinks are provided, and the festivities will conclude with jammin’ music by DJ Ryan Pritts. Pledge forms are available at YadkinRiverkeeper.org.
Anglers, this is your day. On June 17 at 1 p.m., paddlers can participate in the “Father’s Day Fish and Float.” The paddle is 16.7 miles of great fishing from Tanglewood Park to a barbecue at the historic Hairston Plantation on the Yadkin River.
The third overnight camping experience of the paddle brings along the pros from REI. This paddle starts on June 18 at 10 a.m. and runs through June 19 at 12 p.m. with an optional overnight camping experience at Boone’s Cave Park. The trip starts at US Highway 64 to Boone’s Cave Park (12.8 miles), ending the following day at York Hill (22.3 miles total).
This year’s conclusion of the Tour de Yadkin celebrates the beauty of the Uwharrie Mountains at Morrow Mountain State Park with a hike and optional 2-mile paddle on June 23 at 10 a.m. Family Camping is available.
For Paddle-a-Thon forms and information on equipment rental, paddling/camping restrictions and liability insurance, visit YadkinRiverkeeper.org. All Paddle-a-Thon donations must be collected and turned in at the start of the paddle on June 16.
About the Yadkin Riverkeeper®
The Yadkin Riverkeeper’s mission is to respect, protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin through education, advocacy and action. It is aimed at creating a clean and healthy river that sustains life and is cherished by its people. To achieve this vision, it seeks to accomplish the following objectives: sustain a RIVERKEEPER® program, measurably improve water quality, reestablish native bio-diversity, preserve and enhance the forest canopy, bring legal action to enforce state and federal environmental laws, and teach and practice a “river ethic” of ecological respect to all ages. For more information, visit YadkinRiverkeeper.org or call 336-722-4949.
The Yadkin Riverkeeper events are supported by grants from the John W. and Anna H. Hanes Foundation in Winston-Salem and the Women’s Impact Fund in Charlotte.