I contacted Captain Heber because I wanted to take my family, including an 11 yr old and 14 yr old, on a canoe/camping trip on the Roanoke. But, there were some worries: My husband and I hadn't canoed in nearly 20 years. Our kids never had. We'd never been to eastern North Carolina. I have basic camping gear, but no familiarity with camping along a river and the particular preparations one needs to make.
From the very first email and the many subsequent messages and phone calls (like I said, I was a little worried), the Captain was warm, welcoming and brimming with advice and confidence about taking this trip with kids. He made it spectacularly easy for a family that is NOT an expert outdoorsy group. He planned a route for us and gave us multiple maps and phone numbers so we knew we could reach out for advice or rescue at any time. He spent a good half hour showing my son how to rig a fishing pole for striped bass. He made the entire experience wonderful.
As it happens, we did have to call for rescue the next day, when one of the kids got sick. As promised, the Captain responded immediately to my text and we were back on land and being shuttled to our car in no time.
We are coming back for another trip, planned by the fearless Captain, later this year. I couldn't have asked for a better experience, and my kids are begging to try again.
Our group completed a 3 day 4 night trip along the Roanoke river with the support of Roanoke Outdoor Adventures. Capt. Heber Coltrain's extensive knowledge of the area and his attention to detail were invaluable in making our trip a huge success! I would highly recommend his services if you are interested in exploring this unique environment. Heber went out of his way to make sure we were safe and well equipped with the proper gear and information. After his trip briefing, we felt confident we would be able to tackle any challenges that might arise. We experienced some incredible wildlife along the way, and some truly magical scenery, but the local hospitality we encountered along our route also left a lasting impression!
Bethfrom Tennessee(April 2015)
We became intrigued about ‘sleeping in the swamp’ after seeing a segment about it on the public TV. But how to set it up? How on earth could we figure out paddling times to sleeping platforms and most important of all, being sure we could find them? Enter Capt. Heber Coltraine of Roanoke Outdoor Adventures . He not only helped us cover the basics but provided a wealth of information about the history and lore of the surrounding towns and swamp. He recommended paddling trails and sleeping platforms, as well as wonderful sights to see along the way. In addition, we had the assurance of knowing he knew our approximate location at all times, and could get help to us quickly if we should find ourselves needing it. He also provided portage from our take out point back to our truck (parked in a safe spot with his guidance).
The canoeing experience was somewhat dampened by cold rain. But when we arrived at our first sleep platform, the sun broke out and we had an absolutely beautiful evening. Egrets flew constantly overhead, fish jumped in the swamp and we even got to watch a nearby egret stalk and spear his fish dinner. We heard numerous owls throughout the night. It was thrilling to sleep among so many wonderful animal sounds.
If you are up for this adventure, I would highly recommend Heber and Roanoke River Adventures as your starting point!
Cissie (April 2015)
Heber, I know you wanted feedback, so here goes.
Great job providing support.Great job making us feel like you really cared about us having a safe, enjoyable trip. Never once did you make any of us feel like we were a bother. It seems like that is the way it should be, yet it rarely ever is.Great price ! I think you are handling it well, as long as people take care of you the way you take care of them. Personally, if you had told me $200 up front, I may have gone elsewhere. By the end of the trip, however, with all of the pros being discussed here, I'd say you deserve $200. BTW, I'm still waiting for 2 participants to settle up with me. When/if they do, I'll be sending a little more $ your way.
Great job meeting our needs (kitty litter, wasp spray, picking up Dorsey to get meds, etc)
Great job sharing local knowledge!!!
My only suggestion would be to have high quality maps printed up ahead of time and make them available for all participants. If you want to collect the maps at the end of the trip, that would be fine. It would really help if the maps met the following:
1.were in color
2.were laminated (or provide map cases with a refundable deposit)
3.had points of interest (restaurants, historical sites, etc) clearly marked
4.had descriptions of the points of interest (either at the bottom of the page or on the back)
5.had GPS coordinates and/or landmarks for each of the points of interest
Thanks for all of your assistance!!! I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!
I don’t know if anyone thought to text you, but we arrived home about 30 minutes ago. All safe and sound.
I can’t thank you enough for your services. I’ve used a number of outfitters for different adventures over the years,
but never have we been treated so much like family. We truly appreciate all you did for us.
If we’re in the area again, you will be my first call. And if you need a reference for anything, ever…let me know.
Russ (May 2015)
This note is for Anne (who organized my reservations for the platforms) and for Capt. Heber (who organized my vehicle shuttle and gave me sage advice on what to look for and look out for while on the river).
I wish to offer my heartiest thanks for making last week’s trip the best possible time for me, and to congratulate the Partners for making the camping on the river so safe and pleasant.
I look forward to continuing downriver next season, or maybe in October, hopefully with my wife or son.
Again, thank you for the activism and thankless work that you have performed, making a tour down your remarkable area so interesting.
David (May 2015)
Heber recently helped our Scout troop with a float and camping trip on the Roanoke River. He absolutely made our trip. His planned a trip that perfectly suited our skills and desire to paddle. His equipment is first class and well maintained. Heber is a life-long resident of Williamston and a font of knowledge on the area. He shared of this local history with us to help our Scouts understand some of the unique culture in this historic part of the state. The Roanoke River provides a beautiful, scenic river and the platforms are well maintained. Camping on the platforms is a unique experience that I recommend to all Scouts. Heber went out of his way to help us with arrangements before we arrived he checked on us during our paddle. He provided a guide service that far, far exceeded our expectations. We will definitely be back and we will use Roanoke Outdoor Adventures and enthusiastically recommend Heber to all of our fellow Scouters here in Charlotte.
Courtenay Miller – Scoutmaster, Troop 3, BSA (January 22,2013)
After many years of procrastination, my wife and I decided to finally break down and paddle the Roanoke River and camp the platforms we'd heard so much about. Both of us are kayak instructors and experienced kayak campers and all we really needed for the trip was a shuttle to complete our planning. A little online research of the area helped us find Roanoke Outdoor Adventures and Heber Coltrain. A quick call to Heber had us set up and scheduled. Heber met us at the put-in and led the way to the take-out to drop our car. The ride back to the put-in with Heber was an absolutely phenomenal travelog of the area, its history and leg-by-leg summary of the highlights we'd encounter during the trip. Heber even threw in a few hot tips for places to get out and grab some great lunches if we wanted a break from camp food. For the cost of the very reasonable shuttle fee Heber charged, we gained the added value of an expert "virtual guide" for our trip that greatly added to our enjoyment. Heber is a phenomenal resource for your travel plans to the Williamston/Plymouth area. We're so glad we got the chance to meet and work with him. (February 8, 2013)
For river information, kayak rental, trip advice and just a jolly good time I highly recommend Heber Coltrain at Roanoke Outdoor Adventures in Williamston, NC, www.roanokeoutdooradventures.com. Heber is a living encyclopedia of the river and the area and spin tales about local history and generally keep you entertained. One of the best outfitters I've ever had the pleasure to do business with, and I've used many all over the world. Tom Ress September 2013 http://www.dispatchesfromthewildworld.blogspot.com/ )
"Capt. Heber Coltrain" was spot on for our journey down the Roanoke and adjoining swamps. He was very helpful from the first time we first made contact and gave us some great pointers for our trip. I would HIGHLY recommend him to anyone who is looking to have a great time outdoors in eastern NC. He won't steer you wrong." Ben Anderson, March 2015
We all had such a good time and you were a wonderful guide. Thank you for making our trip so much more interesting than it would have been otherwise. You're a great Ambassador for this area...they are lucky to have you. Will call you the next time we're able to come down.
Linda (Nov 10, 2016, guided boat trip on Cashie River)
A lot of guides are interested in just guiding you for the task at hand; whether it be fishing, hunting, hiking, etc etc.
Not Capt. Heber Coltrain!!
After spending a day with Capt. Coltrain I feel like I could write the next great American novel with the mighty Roanoke River as a back drop. We discussed the people who had lived in the area for hundreds of years and whose impact can still be found in words such as Cashoke, Conine, and even Roanoke, which means "River of Death." I learned about how long ago, the sea was where the Roanoke River now is, and how daring Confederate Mariners operated in these waters against the Union Navy.
Some guides may not have grown up in the areas they guide. The same can't be said for Capt. Coltrain. Since he was a boy, he has stumped up and down this river. It was extremely enjoyable listening to him reminisce about days gone by, floods, low water, and all times in between.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet his squirrel dog, Miss Gypsy. Seeing her work in the river bottom-land and hearing her cry of excitement echo among cypress, water oak, and poplars when she treed a squirrel, was a real treat.
I would HIGHLY recommend Capt Coltrain for any of the services he offers. Roanoke Outdoor ADVENTURES, is a great name for his company. I assure you, if you book a trip with Capt Coltrain, you will not be going on a trip, but an adventure you will not soon forget!
Jordan (January 2018, day of fishing and hunting)
As you know, I am an avid amateur photographer and my wife and I love the outdoors. In planning this trip with you, it was our hope to see and photograph some of the beauty of the Roanoke River wilderness and some of its birds and other wildlife. With your guiding, we certainly succeeded. We saw birds such as the Mississippi Kite that we had never seen before. We saw others that we have rarely seen such as the Prothonotary Warbler. I am not a lover of snakes, but I still love to photograph them and I got a lot of good shots of brown water snakes and others. I am most proud of the pictures I took of the scenic beauty of the river with the cypress and tupelo gum reflecting on the still backwaters. We had a terrific time and, because of your guidance and attention for our comfort, the trip exceeded our expectations. The jackets you provided us saved us since the weather turned out to be colder than we had anticipated or provided for. Let’s do this again.
Fred & Pam Toms (May 2015)
(This comment was taken from Mike Dunn's roadsendnauturalist.com blog)
A trip like this would normally require a couple of cars, one at the starting point and one at the take out. But, we decided to opt for a local outfitter, Roanoke Outdoor Adventures, run by Captain Heber Coltrain. Heber is a local guide that rents canoes and kayaks, can help you plan a trip through the area, and provide shuttle service. He is knowledgeable about the region and its history and I can recommend his services to anyone planning a trip in this region.
Mike Dunn (May 2015)
Recently I had the opportunity and good fortune to go on the Roanoke River with Roanoke River Outdoor Adventures. Captain Heber took me, my son and two grandchildren on what turned out to be one of the most unique trips up and down the Roanoke River I've ever experienced. It was an unforgettable trip with my family and our guide, Captain Heber who knows a great deal about the river and its history.
Gosh! I would recommend this trip to any family or group. I knew some history about the river. However, I had no idea there was so much to learn about the surroundings. We even caught fish and released them back to the river. If anyone can find the time and would like to enjoy nature at its finest, call Captain Heber and arrange an outing. You'll be glad you did.
Thanks, Captain Heber!
Wayne Fox ( Aug 2015)