Motors Allowed?
Easy / Class A
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Located near the site of a long abandoned logging town, the Buffalo City Paddling Trails offer marked waterways for kayakers and canoers of all skill levels. The boat launch is right next to where you park your car, and it is wide enough to accommodate multiple kayaks or canoes at once. Depending on which route you choose, you can spend an hour or a day exploring Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge from the water.

From the launch site, there are four marked paddling trails, the shortest being a 1.5-mile loop marked by red tape on the pole markers. Slightly longer is a green marked trail that winds through canals and into a body of water called Sawyer Lake. This trail is 2 miles each way to the lake. If you want to do a point-to-point trip without retracing your steps, you can follow Milltail Creek upriver to its intersection with Milltail Road, where there is another put-in. This trail is marked by blue tape and is 5.5 miles. The longest adventure to be had follows Milltail Creek downriver and out into Alligator River itself. It is 4 miles each way to Alligator River, and the route is marked by yellow tape on the poles.

Each trail is lined with lush vegetation and includes travel in both open bodies of water and narrow creeks. If you're interested in the native flora and fauna of coastal North Carolina, this is one of the best places to observe it. Birds, turtles, butterflies, and even alligators are seen regularly along the trails, so make sure to bring your camera!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required

Open Year-round



Secluded. Wildlife viewing.


Time-consuming to get to.


Bird watching



Site characteristics: Water


Portage required



Nearby Adventures

Tidewater + Outer Banks, North Carolina
Tidewater + Outer Banks, North Carolina
Tidewater + Outer Banks, North Carolina

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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