Section 3 of the Dan River in Stokes County, North Carolina.
This was one of my favorite local runs when I started kayaking.
Discharge and Gage Height near Francisco, NC
The put-in for the Jessup's Mill section of the Dan River is on Collinstown Road, search for Jessup Mill. For the take-out below the 704 bridge, use Georges Mill. It's a four or five mile Class I-II stretch with great scenery. The best part is in the third quarter of the run, so save the playing till then.
March 15, 2009.
River Depth at Francisco gauge = 2 feet
A nice, local rainy day run with friends.
December 29, 2007.
River Depth at Francisco gauge = 2 feet Discharge = 220 cubic feet per second
Video of SRVCC paddling Jessups Mill (18MBs)
My 2007 paddling year was bookmarked with a pair of trips on the Jessups Mill section of the Dan River. After two and a half months without rain, 24 paddlers, mostly from the Smith River Valley Canoe Club, showed up to take advantage of the water and weather. The mist hung low, the air was warm and the water provided by overnight rains held out just enough to keep the level above 1.9 feet. It was a nice paddle with one detour along the way to see a picturesque waterfall just a short way up one of the feeder streams. It was fun paddling with such a big group on one of my favorite local runs. It was the first time on Jessups for a few of the group and it was the first time I had the chance to paddle with a few of them too. All in all, a nice Winter outing. Hopefully the rains won't be as stingy in the coming months.
January 1, 2007
River Depth at Francisco gauge = 4 feet Discharge = 1660 cubic feet per second
First off, I need to credit Will for taking the cool photos of everyone dropping down the creek. I didn't manage to take too many shots today, so I'm glad that Will made those. I'd also like to thank James, Joe, Tom and Will for letting me paddle down the Dan with them. It's nice to paddle with a group that's better and more experienced than you are because you can learn a lot from them on your way down the river. I had a lot of fun running Jessups Mill at four feet, which is about two and a half feet higher than I've ever paddled it before. It wasn't as washed out as I anticipated and the quarter mile section was awesome. When you're swallowing water and still sitting upright in your boat, then you're going through some pretty fun sized waves. It was only supposed to rain a half inch on New Year's Eve, but we all woke to find the gauge's graph shooting straight up. James and I walked over to it at the 704 access point and it read 4.1.
Trent took a few others that showed up without their white-water gear further downstream, while James, Tom, Joe, Will and I setup shuttle upstream for a run on Section III. It was nice not having to worry about picking a line between the rocks for once. The trip went by fast though at 1660cfs. When we got to the lunch-stop rapid, I came through backwards and played for all of about three seconds before eddying out with everyone else. But those three seconds were fun, so I decided to try to paddle back across and upstream and slip into it from the other side. That didn't work out like I planned and I found myself making a New Years Day swim across the Dan a split second after getting into the rapid. I didn't get cold, but I was pretty darned winded by the time I drug my butt out of the river. I owe a big thanks to everyone for rounding up my GT and for bulldozing it to shore. No one else swam and Tom hit a nice roll.
James showed us the way up a small creek on river left where we got to ride down a cool little fall. That was a lot of fun as you can tell by my big grin at the bottom. Will photographed it for us and James might have some photos too. All in all I had a great time paddling on a day I was supposed to be in the office and am really glad that I finally caught the water on the Dan when it was up.
November 12, 2006.
What a great day. A posting earlier in the week on the TPA board about a possible Sunday Jessups Mill run following Saturday night rains sparked my interest. I mentioned it to my friend Jeff who called back later to say that he was in. It did rain Saturday night but only a half an inch, so the TPA folks didn't paddle, but Jeff and I were already set on going. I looked up my March 2006 Trip Report from our last Jessup's run and saw that it said " a cold day with absurdly low water. It was the best trip yet, I absolutely loved it." That convinced me that the trip was a good idea. We were at the 704 take-out at 9am and unloading the boats at Jessup's around 9:30. We were off the river around 2PM.
We learned from our March trip to save our energy for the much more fun second half of the run. We paddled straight for the first hour and a half before stopping for lunch. The water was better than our last trip, but we still had to pick our lines down the river. It wasn't too bad though. From lunch stop down it was play time. I gave Jeff the camera at the first decent rapid because I saw a rock with some possible boof potential. Jeff's money in the bank when it comes to timing boof photos just right, like this one from Basketball Falls. And there is one little section where you can paddle far river left around a boulder that sticks out about four or five feet above the water. I remembered a really fun ledge there from my first run on Jessups. I think that is one of my favorite spots anywhere. It pushes my GT down at least a foot and holds it there. The really fun part is that if the boat thrashes from side to side, it gets kicked back into the middle because the drop is so narrow. Just lots and lots of fun. I'm paddling away from it here.
Another highlight was the eight point buck standing on the river bank. He was on a rock river right and didn't budge as I floated past. I think he was surprised to see me, and couldn't quite figure out what I was doing in the river. His rack was impressive, but he was a pretty puny looking guy.
The sky was blue, the water clear, the sun warm, the breeze cold. Just an awesome day to be on the river.
The gauge was broke, but we checked it at the take-out and saw that it read 1.68. The air temp was right at 50F.
March 24, 2006
River Depth at Francisco gauge = 1.5+ feet Discharge = 120 cubic feet per second
The only section of the Dan that I hadn't paddled between Kibler Valley and Moratock park was Jessup's Mill to 704. We finally got a chance to run that on a cold gray day that had unbelievably low water. Even with the weather and the low water we had the best run ever. The scenery around each and every bend was fantastic. The run also included a surprisingly nice stretch of rapids. Jeff and I had all day and took our time, taking many breaks and stopping to play in even the smallest of rapids. I can't wait to go back on a day with more cfs. I spent enough time on the river to get a pretty good feel for the GT and loved getting to play in the low water rapids. I worked on dropping through sideways and backwards so that I could surf the bottom without having to paddle back into it. Just a lot of fun on a day off from work. Jessup's to 704 is now our favorite run on the Dan and we'll definitely be paddling it again this Spring.