Burnt Mill Creek


To begin with, this is not a creek for the squeamish. This creek is completely urban, with dirty water and trash in many places. The embankments are all quite steep, with few places to get in or out easily. However, for those with a sense of adventure, this creek provides an experience not to be had in any other local waterway.
The creek is very old (it was used to power a mill a long time ago), and has been impounded (and thus can only be paddled in two separate sections). The section south of the dam passes historic Oakdale Cemetery, tranquil Wallace Park with it's towering cypress trees, and penetrates deep into Forest Hills with it's beautiful homes and gardens. The section north of the dam is much wider, with a kudzu-smothered park on the west bank that's great for taking a break. This section can only be accessed from Smith Creek (by paddling east from Castle Hayne Road and turning right after the railroad bridge).

DIRECTIONS: To explore the lower half mile, you must park at Castle Hayne Road (see SMITH CREEK). Paddle east, and you will find the mouth of the lower Burnt Mill just past the railroad bridge on the right. Paddle to the dam, where there is also a quiet park on the right where you can take a break. To explore the upper 2 1/2 miles, there needs to be high water. Park on the north side of Princess Place Drive at the creek, where there are plenty of put-in options - all steep. If you paddle north, you will reach the dam in .75 mile, and see the old cemetaries on the left. Just over 1 1/2 miles can be paddled to the south, well into Forest Hills, when the water becomes too shallow to continue. A lot of this stretch is through municipal parks.

Difficulty Hard due to the steep embankments and two carry-arounds.
Hazards Some underwater debris and tree stumps, generally avoided if you stick to center channel
Time/Distance The entire Princess Place section can be done in 1-2 hours (2.5 miles)
Serenity Actually quite serene, though not in the wilderness sense of the word. Other than passing under Market Street, everything is fairly quiet.
Map Map To Burnt Mill Creek from Castle Hayne Road Launch