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Mommy, Where do Rivers Come From?


Most residents of the Triangle probably don’t realize it, but the Neuse River, which gets it’s start right between North Raleigh and Wake Forest, is not exactly a naturally flowing river. The amount of water flowing down the Neuse is controlled at the Falls Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Neuse River is used to help control the water level of Falls Lake Reservoir. Think of it like that little drain plug in your bathtub that keeps it from overflowing if you let the water run too long. When the lake gets too high (251.5 feet, to be exact), they “pull the plug” and release water.

If you want to canoe, kayak, or stand up paddle board on the Neuse River in Raleigh, this can affect you in a few ways. Paddle Creek will only run kayak and canoe trips when the flow is between 100 and 800 cfs (cubic feet per second). You can check the current river flow here. If it is less than 100 cfs, you’d be better off walking down the river than paddling. Over 800 cfs and we make you add us to your will and notify next of kin (not really, it just gets hard to manage for new paddlers). ¬†Lucky for us, most of the time the river falls in between those two numbers.

When the Army Corps of Engineers does need to release a lot of water it can be awesome to watch. It also attracts whitewater kayakers from all over the Triangle and beyond. American Whitewater has a great description of the Neuse River at different flow levels.

Below is the Falls Dam when releasing 200cfs and 3200cfs

Dam Resize

Dam Open Resize