Rare is the smaller river in the Piedmont that is nearly always runnable, but that's the case with the Deep River. (The Deep, by the way, is not necessarily so; the name is believed to come from the steep - or "deep" - banks that line much of the river.) The Deep is further blessed by being part of a concerted conservation effort by the Triangle Land Conservancy to preserve land along the waterway. To date, some 3,000 acres along the Deep in Chatham, Lee and Moore counties have been spared. The eventual goal: to create a linear state park, similar to Lumber River State Park or New River State Park. To date along this 37-mile stretch are six river access points making paddling the Deep a simple thing. A particularly popular stretch of the river is the 6.3-mile run from McIver Landing in the town of Gulf to Deep River Park. There's a frisky Class I rapid near the launch; after that it's classic slow-water cruising on a river that, thanks in part to those deep banks, is well insulated from the roadways beyond. An especially good paddle in summer: in addition to having water, the mature riparian forest along both banks offers good protection from the heat of mid-day. Good in winter as well as the lack of foliage allows ol' Sol to combat the effects of a cold-flowing river. Plus, you have a better shot at seeing remnants of the region's coal industry past along the way. Plan to spend a moment or two at the take-out, at Deep River Park, where the old Camelback Bridge, once a key connector in central Piedmont transportation, now provides a nice pedestrian pathway over the water. More info here. Access and shuttle: McIver Landing River Access in Gulf and Deep River Park Access; map here. Map here.Getting there from downtown Chapel Hill here.