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Get Outdoors!

South Boston News / April 30, 2020

For any experienced paddler, kayaker, or canoer, it’s well understood that a day spent on the water is a day of fun, exercise and relaxation.

While one always needs to be careful on the water — COVID-19 pandemic or not — you don’t necessarily have to be experienced to enjoy a nice day on the lake or river. Luckily for residents of Halifax County and surrounding communities, the area offers some fantastic venues to enjoy these activities.

Paddling and boating can be enjoyed while practicing the social distancing measures recommended by the CDC regarding the coronavirus.

The Staunton, Dan, Banister and Hyco rivers, and Banister Lake and Lake Conner, provide everything from calm waters to whitewater adventure. Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston, both of which are well known to local waters enthusiast, offer vast stretches of open water and trophy fishing galore. For even more privacy, launch your boat on one of the many creeks located throughout the county.

Access these waterways are varied — from Staunton River State Park, one can access Kerr (Buggs Island) Lake or explore the Dan and Staunton rivers. Blueways or water trails, as these waterways are referred to, are usually developed by state, county or local municipalities to encourage recreation, ecological education and preservation of wildlife resources.

Upper Reach is an adventure education program of the Roanoke River Basin Association. Their mission is to promote access to important habitat areas along the Roanoke River, its tributaries and neighboring region, in a way that inspires people to become more active and engaged in their outdoor environment.

Upper Reach participates in developing paddle and hiking trails, outdoor excursions, geo-caching, wildlife enhancements and photography, environmental stewardship and educational programs.

Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy has worked in partnership with Upper Reach. Espy, who paddles, said the sport and the time spent of the water is very enjoyable.

“I do canoe, I’m in an open boat, a 15’ Dagger Reflection” canoe, Espy said. “In addition to working with Scott (Scott Murray, with Upper Reach) and his program, we worked quite a bit with the Dan River Basin Association.”

Espy said there have been challenges having group outings recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that the Dan River Basin Association’s First Saturday Outing, scheduled for this Saturday on the Banister River in Halifax, had to be postponed because of the pandemic.

“Dan River Basin Association’s First Saturday Outing, it’s free and open to the public, just sign a waiver,” Espy said. “It was originally scheduled in April to be putting in at the Banister in town, King Bridge Landing which Scott helped to design and construct.”

Espy said because of ongoing coronavirus concerts, the First Saturday event may have to be moved to June. He noted a formal announcement would be forthcoming regarding the postponement.

Halifax has several businesses that support water sports, sales and rentals. A perfect place to start if you’re looking for vendors and water venues is the Halifax County/South Boston Visitors Center.

While the center is temporarily closed, the website is wide open at The site provides listings of renters of water sports equipment and can even help you map out a trip to your destination.

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