The Lower Haw River is short run and rain dependant but it is fun at the right level. It is a good class 2-3 run between the levels of 1000 CFS (my minimum although it can be run lower) up to around 7000 CFS. From 6000 CFS it gets pushy and is 3 (maybe + mainly because the eddies go away and a swim is to the lake…) I have run it at about 11,000 CFS and it was one mass of big water with good playwaves. Its ideal anywhere above 4000 CFS in my opinion but still a lot of fun at lower levels.
The first rapid is Lunchstop and it is just a wave train/drop with a wave near the top at low levels and a wave/hole develops at the bottom from 3500 CFS and up. From there move to the main channel known as Ocean Boulevard. Just a mass of waves and stuff to mess around with (nothing big at all). Then back to river right for a little 3 foot drop. At high levels the drop washes out and becomes a hole. There has been a tree over this drop for a while so just make sure before going over to not run it to far left or you might hit your head or if it is high.
From there continue along the right to Gabriels Bend the main rapid of the section. There are many eddies to catch to make it fun, otherwise you can just bomb down and hit the waves and holes. Pretty much straightforward through the middle with the easier route being to hug the left side. At low levels there is a good little hole at the bottom then it just gets bigger as it gets higher. Normally stay around here and play for a while.
Then you have a bunch of options as how to continue. River right is good at higher levels but go more to the middle for the “Maze” at lower levels. After that there is nothing significant just continue into the lake and take out.
All in all its a great run for the Piedmont of NC and only 30 minutes from Raleigh/Durham. When the river is running, there are usually a good number of local boaters that you can run with.
There is always the Middle Haw that provides an easier option as well.
To put in – Coming from Raleigh, going south, follow highway 64, cross the bridge over Jordan Lake then continue a few miles until you cross the bridge over the river. After the bridge take the first left then an immediate left down to the access area. Then to the take out take a left out of the access area then go to the first road and take another left and continue until the stop sign and once again take a left. Then after about a mile you will see Robson creek access on your left. Follow the gravel road to the takeout.
For a good description of the river go to American Whitewater’s page at http://www.americanwhitewater.org/rivers/id/2706/.