The best flatwater paddling in the state lies Down East, in the various blackwater rivers and swamps that snake through the coastal plain and into the sources. Peace and quiet is assured within moments of putting in. But you don't always have time to escape to the coast for paddle adventure. What to do in those situations? Head to Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake!? The land of the 550-horsepower outboard bass boat? That very one. While the trunk of this mammoth 14,000-acre U.S. Army Corp of Engineers water project in the heart of the Triangle may well be the domain of speedboats and jet skis, its many fingers offer miles of great escape reminiscent of the coast. One such escape begins from one of the state recreation area's most popular boat ramps, Farrington Point. While the bulk of testosterone-infused traffic heads south or northeast, the savvy paddler hangs a right and heads north up Bush Creek. Bush Creek heads north, getting smaller and smaller, for a mile and a half before making a dogleg left. Here, what motorboats you may have encountered abandon ship completely as the water gets shallow and the willows and grasses form a maze of islands that make navigation a unique, not to mention cozy, challenge. One passage may appear clear only to be suddenly blocked by a downed tree, another may seem to pose an obstacle at first, but show promise in the distance. And don't forget to look up: the area is popular with birders, especially those searching for bald eagles. Your penetration depends in large part on lake levels. No two trips here are alike. More info here. Maps & access here and "GMCO's Pro Series Map of Jordan Lake," $5.95 andhere. Getting there from downtown Chapel Hill here.