ROCKINGHAM — The Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail is beautiful and inviting after the influx of water from Hurricane Matthew, but paddlers should be aware of the challenges of boating in the faster currents, say area kayakers.
The Creek Runner’s Club Captain Sonny Aycoth, affectionately known as “Ole Mad Yaker,” put in at the Nicholson Road access point in Roberdel Tuesday and Wednesday to clear fallen trees and debris as much as possible.
“Before each bridge there’s great places to get out before bridges,” Aycoth said, citing the still-high water levels along the blue trail.
Some bridges, he said, can be paddled around — while others require getting out of the water and carrying your kayak around to the other side before putting back in.
He said even experienced paddlers should be cautious on the trail in the days to come.
“Right now it’s very hard in fast currents,” Aycoth explained. “Your reaction time is greatly reduced in the twisted creek, with little time to react to downed trees and debris. A life jacket’s mandatory. And never try (going) alone. You must be able to lay flat in your kayak to clear wood bridges.”
Aycoth posted video footage Wednesday to the club’s Facebook page showing the Red Bridge, located at point 3.5 on the blue trail map, collapsed into Hitchcock Creek.
“That’s a private bridge,” he said. “It’s the only one the city didn’t build. You can paddle around Red Bridge to the left now, but when the creek drops there’s no telling what a mess it will be.”
As far as the hiking trails along the greenway, Aycoth said they are littered with fallen trees and large limbs.
“Walking trail is a nightmare,” he said.
City leaders said during Tuesday night’s council meeting that it may take at least a month before the Steele Street point is open again.
William R. Toler contributed to this story. Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.