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NOC in NC for fun water weekend

The water is cold so warm, waterproof gear is provided. Photos by Melissa Lowrie

Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie
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  Melissa Lowrie

It’s two-for-one May here at Canoe Kids. This month we decided to give our readers a little something different in the form of options for weekend family getaways. The two trips you’ll read about below are fun, entertaining (for kids and adults) and regional. Pack a bag and enjoy.

A ninja rock.
By all accounts, a ninja is stealth and dangerous. For the river kayaker, the ninja rock is stealth, dangerous and submerged.

The term, and up-close-and personal experience, was only a bit of what my Canoe Kid learned on a weekend trip to North Carolina’s Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC). A couple of hours from Big Canoe, this trip is best for a weekend getaway.

NOC is a world-class outdoor outfitter for paddling instruction. With plenty of rivers to explore in western N.C., experienced instructors provide learning experiences for novice to expert visi-tors. Kids and adults can learn in group lessons or a one-on-one private session.

  The boys and their instructor on the river.

To kick off our spring break, my son and a friend met up with Rachel, a kayaking instructor at NOC. The boys, 11 and 9, both have kayaking experience, but limited river time.

All beginners start out on a nearby lake to master a wet exit, paddling and hand paddling, then it’s on to the Little Tennessee River, an easy place to get your bearings. The lake training is es-sential so students know what before they get to moving water. (In essence, the gist of the wet exit is to be able to get out of your kayak after you’ve flipped. Basically, you won’t progress much past the lake unless you master the wet exit.)

After a day of instruction in the lake and on the Little T, the boys progressed to a faster-moving Tuckaseege River. They met Rachel after breakfast and headed to the put-in spot, a few miles from the car, for a day on the river.

The boys had a great time and learned along the way. With an experienced guide, they were al-ways informed on the best ways to navigate the river. My son got to use his wet-exit training on the Tuckaseege when he found himself upside-down on several occasions.

  Canoe Kids ready to tackle the Tuckaseege River.
The NOC paddling school was voted “Best Place to Learn” by Outdoor magazine. From introductory classes to camps and instructor training, the paddling school has all levels of instruction covered. Classes range from a half-day to week-long affairs. The boys did private kayak instruction, which is offered March through October. Prices range from $150-350 depending on the type of class and how many students are included (it can be up to five).

There are lodging options on the property at NOC's 500-acre adventure center. The website,, calls it “rustic cabin and bunkhouse lodging,” which I would agree with. There was a definite campy feel to the cabin. Perfect for a guy trip.

There is good food at the River’s Edge and great shopping at the retail store on site. Both are must-do stops during a visit. Check out the website for additional information and rates for all the offerings.

This adventure has all the elements of a great weekend. Beautiful scenery, a chance to learn something new and to be outside. If you are into whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, zip lin-ing or mountain biking, NOC is a fantastic option and worth the trip.

Before your Canoe Kids are signed up for summer camps and visits to grandparents, try a week-end trip for some fun off the grid. Welcome summer!

Ready for another fun-filled weekend?
Spring Break stretches into Alabama, by Jim Rice.


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