by Amber Ellis, JRA's Watershed Restoration Associate/Volunteer Coordinator
Summer time is upon us and what better way to enjoy the long days then to go for an overnight weekend paddle trip! Below are a few that our JRA RiverRats and staff have recommended as their top picks. They are listed in order from the headwaters to the middle James.
Please remember to stay safe on the river, and check river level conditions before you head out: jrava.org/jrw/
1. Iron Gate to Eagle Rock: This is a 14 mile trip that starts at the Iron Gate boat launch below Route 220, just a mile below the confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture River (aka the start of the James River!). It’s a beautiful stretch that is surrounded by mountains, rocky bluffs, and contains Class I and II rapids. The first stretch from Iron Gate to Gala is 10 miles and camping is available at Gala River Front Campground. Day 2 is a 4 mile stretch, which has several of Class I rapids. The take out is at the DGIF Craig Creek access at Eagle Rock. To see pictures Click Here.
2. Glen Maury Park to Snowden: This roughly 15 mile trip starts in Buena Vista at Glen Maury Park. The put in is at the park on river right across the 10th St bridge. The paddle begins on the Maury River and ends on the James, winding through lush green mountains. It is for the more experienced paddler and goes through Class I, II, and III rapids including Balcony Falls. The camping area is just before Balcony Falls on river right and is on property owned by the National Forest Service. Many folks consider this the best camping spot on the James! Get a good rest and go through Balcony Falls on day 2. Take out is at Snowden on river left right after these Class III rapids.
3. Bent Creek to Wingina: This 14.5 mile trip is great for all levels of paddlers as it passes through easy Class I and II rapids. This section is filled with islands and you will see quite a bit of tubers as well. The put in is at Bent Creek at the Route 60 bridge with camping 7 miles downriver at James River State Park on river right. On day 2 head out and go another 7 miles to the take out at Wingina at the Route 56 bridge. Click here for a more detailed description.
4. Howardsville to Bremo Bluff: This is a 25 mile stretch that could be broken into a smaller trip such as or Howardsville to Scottsville or Scottsville to Bremo, or any other combination. This stretch contains some Class I and II rapids. You can camp on either side of the river in Scottsville and enjoy a night walking through town. This is a favorite stretch by several of JRA’s RiverRats. A local outfitter out of Scottsville, James River Reeling and Rafting, offers trips if this is your first overnight or if you don’t own a boat. Click Here for a more detailed description of the trip.
5. Cartersville to Maidens: This is about a 17 mile stretch with the put in at the Cartersville boat landing. It’s a very easy stretch with flatwater and the characteristic rolling hills of the piedmont region. There are a few Class I riffles, but is a great option for beginners or fisherman. Camping is at Powhatan State Park at their new canoe-in campground.
If you are looking at some other options or more information, visit the links below.