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Dan River Basin Association to paddle on upper Dan

The Dan River Basin Association will paddle on the upper Dan River in Kibler Valley near the Blue Ridge Parkway for its Aug. 4 First Saturday Outing. Meeting at 10 a.m. at 3127 Kibler Valley Road, participants will put in and take out on private property with the owners' permission.

On the same day, Dan River Basin Association is co-sponsoring two other events: the Smith River Cleanup in Henry County, beginning at 9 a.m. and the Dan River Boat Race in Madison, for which registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Information about the cleanup and the race is at www.danriver.org.

The 5.5-mile portion of the river chosen for the First Saturday Outing in Kibler Valley is downstream of the challenging section where the renowned Kibler Valley River Run is held each summer. Here the river is much gentler. 

 According to Trip Coordinator Will Truslow, “This is still a mountain stream where the bottom is cobbles and small boulders. A helmet is recommended for personal safety, and kayak skirts will help avoid waves washing into the cockpit. At only 25 feet or so in width, the river feels quick, but rapids are small and short and can be managed by novice paddlers with some maneuvering.

 Truslow said, “This trip is not for the first-time paddler.” 

Wayne Kirkpatrick, past president of DRBA, described the setting: “Participants in the August outing are in for a treat on this float. This section of the Dan offers boaters a variety of scenery, with lots of flowers and trees along the banks.

“After traveling through a vacation playground,” he continues, “we'll transition to a feeling of gliding into a remote, primitive area with the paddler being the first explorer of this beautiful stream.”

Water in Kibler Valley is released from Townes Dam, whose reservoir drives the City of Danville's Pinnacles Power Plant some five miles upstream of the put-in for the outing. As a “tail-race” stream coming from the deep lake behind the dam, the water is cold enough to make the river a prime trout-fishing stream. The cool water and shade along the narrow waterway may be especially welcome to boaters on a hot summer day.

On a section without official public accesses, DRBA relies on support from private landowners to provide access to the river. Kirkpatrick said, “DRBA is graced by the generosity of the Slate family for providing put-in access to the Dan from their property. As riverside landowners they recognize and support the mission of DRBA to preserve and promote the natural and cultural resources of this region. Partnerships such as this make it possible for DRBA to reach sections of the Dan River basin's streams that are not regularly available to the public.”

Take-out for the outing will be on Sawmill Lane about 100 yards downstream of the Sawmill Lane Bridge.

Participants in the outing are asked to meet at 10 a.m. at 3127 Kibler Valley Road, Ararat. They should supply boat, paddles, a life jacket for every boater, water and lunch; wear sunscreen and water-shedding artificial fabric or wool; and provide a back-up change of clothing. All participants will be asked to sign a waiver.

Boat rentals and shuttle may be arranged through Three Rivers Outfitters of Eden, 336-627-6215, www.3-R-O.com.

To reach the put-in from Stuart, take Route 8 (Salem Highway) South to Route 103 (Dry Pond Road). Turn right onto Route 103, and go 9.1 miles to Route 773 (Ararat Highway). Turn right onto Route 773, and go 1.4 miles to Route 648 (Kibler Valley Road). Turn right onto Route 648, and go 3.1 miles. Cross the first bridge on the Kibler Valley Road, then immediately turn left as you leave the bridge at 3127 Kibler Valley Road.

From U.S. 220  near Stoneville, N.C., take N.C. 770 West to N.C. 704, and continue west on 704 to intersect with Route 8 North. Turn right onto N.C. 8, entering Virginia. Drive five miles, and turn left onto Route 103 (Dry Pond Road). Then, follow the above directions.

From Mt. Airy, N.C., take Riverside Drive toward Virginia. At the state line, this becomes Route 773. Travel through the Ararat community and proceed to Route 648 (Kibler Valley Road). Turn left onto Route 648 and follow the directions above.

Outings and meetings of the Dan River Basin Association are open to the public without charge.

For more information about the trip, contact trip coordinator Will Truslow, 336-547-1903, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

For membership and other information about the Dan River Basin Association, visit www.danriver.org.