Locations mentioned on this page are noted on our map.

State Natural Areas like the Lower Haw River are a different type of unit within the NC State Parks system, focusing more on conservation than recreation so facilities are more limited than in state parks. The Lower Haw River State Natural Area is considered undeveloped by State Parks, and there are no official or maintained State Parks land trails or paddle launches at this time on State Parks land. There is a Lower Haw Trails Plan that was completed in June 2018 to help guide future development of this state natural area. There is also a Haw River Trail Study completed in October 2023 to help guide future development of the Chatham County segment of the state trail.

While visiting, practice good stewardship by following these state park rules for the Lower Haw River State Natural Area:

View NC State Parks rules at this link and NC State Parks Safety and Respect rules at this link


There are no authorized State Parks trails at this time, but there are multiple unofficial footpaths you can hike along the Lower Haw.  Enjoy this beautiful area, but please do not trespass on private property.  Dogs should be kept on leash at all times.

Kayaking / Canoeing

There are multiple places where canoes and kayaks can put in along the lower sections of the Haw River.  A good reference guide to consult is Paddling Eastern North Carolina by Paul Ferguson (3rd Edition 2018) for detailed information and maps of each section of the Haw River.  Brief descriptions for Section 8 above the Bynum dam, Section 9 from below the dam to US 64, and Section 10 from US 64 to Robeson Creek are available on these Great Outdoor Provision Company web site links.  More detailed descriptions may be found on the American Whitewater website (see our Links page for specific sections).

Advice for River Users:  Be prepared for potential emergencies by always having with you a life jacket, white light (such as a flashlight), noise producing device (such as a whistle), and mobile phone kept in a waterproof bag.

Caution:  Please check the USGS river gauge near Bynum for water level height in feet, and flow in cubic feet per second, before your trip since water levels and flow can be dangerous.  Also check the forecasts for potential river levels near Bynum on the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service to evaluate whether current conditions are likely to remain stable. Flood stage is 11 feet on the Bynum gauge.

Birding and Other Wildlife Viewing

The Lower Haw River State Natural Area is a great place for wildlife observation and nature photography. Resources for species information include the NC Wildlife Resources Commission Species Guides, the NC Natural Heritage Program NatureServe Explorer, and NC State Parks Natural Resources Inventory Database. You can also post your observations from the Lower Haw River State Natural Area on iNaturalist, a popular nature app for sharing biodiversity observations online. Record your observations, get help identifying plants and animals, and network with a community of scientists and naturalists. Anyone with a smartphone or computer can use iNaturalist to share observations. The Lower Haw River State Natural Area has been designated as a HotSpot location for the ecoEXPLORE program, an incentive-based citizen science program for children in grades K-8 developed by The North Carolina Arboretum. This free innovative program combines science exploration of nature with kid-friendly technology and the ability to earn badges and prizes.   

Some of the birds and other wildlife that you can see along the Haw River include:


For information on freshwater fishing regulations, see the current North Carolina Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest or visit  Fishing spots along the Haw River include:

Whitewater kayaker on the Haw River