The Yadkin River is one of the longest rivers in North Carolina, flowing 215 miles across the state’s center. Beginning near the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Thunder Hill Overlook, it flows southeast becoming the Pee Dee River at the confluence with the Uwharrie River. At the fall line in South Carolina, it becomes the Great Pee Dee River on its way to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Yadkin River passes by numerous urban centers and is an important resource for water supply, recreation and wildlife. Principal tributaries of the Yadkin include the Reddies, Roaring, Mitchell, Fisher, Ararat, and South Yadkin rivers.
The character of the landscape changes dramatically from the headwaters to its lower reaches. The headwaters drain the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Lenoir to Winston Salem. These mountainous areas contain steep valleys and intact forests. Lower down in the Piedmont, the Yadkin and its tributaries flow through broad valleys dominated by agriculture. These headwaters, particularly the small mountain streams, are especially important because of their intact ecology and resulting high water quality.
A portion of the river flows through Pilot Mountain State Park, Morrow Mountain State Park, and the Uwharrie National Forest. In 1987, the NC General Assembly established the Yadkin River State Trail as a “blueway” paddle trail which follows the river for 130 miles.