Trip of the Month

Summer paddling on the James River!

Summer is here and if you’re looking to beat the heat, consider a scenic mountain river trip! The Upper James River is a mecca for outdoor recreation and offers a variety of paddling opportunities. The James forms at the confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture River at Iron Gate.  It meanders through small towns, train tracks, and beautiful Virginia landscapes.  At the Snowden boat ramp, just pass Glasgow, the river passes under the Appalachian Trail footbridge and the Upper James paddling sections come to an end at the major dam.

This upper section of the James offers miles of enjoyable paddle routes to take advantage of.  Check out the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries map!

For muskie and smallmouth fishing, paddle from Iron Gate to Springwood.  The tubing and recreational boater traffic will increase starting at Springwood, but this route often provides plenty of solitude and biting fish.

Need an easy day trip idea? Try putting in at Springwood and taking out at Arcadia. This trip offers gorgeous scenery, Class I-II rapids and the perfect halfway point: Buchanan. The small town of Buchanan offers a great place to grab a bite to eat, enjoy a picnic, and local knowledge from Twin River Outfitters and friendly locals. If you are feeling ambitious after Arcadia, try pushing yourself to the Alpine boat ramp. This float offers solitude and scenery as well as a great swimming rapid at the end of your paddle.

For an overnight option, consider putting in at Alpine and taking out at Glasgow. This longer paddle is ideal for adventure seekers. Consider letting Wilderness Canoe Company help plan your trip on this section of water. Prepare yourself for the final section, Glasgow to Snowden, it holds a surprise at Balcony Falls. This Class III rapid is the first major rapid along the James and paddlers should make the appropriate preparations. Balcony does feature a convenient rock ledge next to it, making multiple runs and a lunchbreak very easy. Please exercise caution on this rapid and always wear a proper fitting PFD!

For trip planning, route mileage, and maps take advantage of these great resources:

James River VDGIF

James River Suggested Itineraries

For shuttles, consider the following:

H & H Outdoors

Twin River Outfitters

Wilderness Canoe Company

Downtown Buchanan

View from Alpine boat landing


Local Trip Thoughts

Hiking Trips

Camping Trips


Fishing Trips

River Trips

  • (VA Blue Line Map) For the fly fishermen craving native trout and beautiful rural and wilderness settings. Remember to adhere to private property and fishing regulation laws! 
  • The South River is popular spot for large rainbow and brown trout in Waynesboro, VA.
  • Try your luck on the James River for large muskie and smallmouth bass. 
  • The James River offers many adventure opportunities. Enjoy a tubing trip down the many routes near Lynchburg with Twin River Outfitters or James River Reeling & Rafting.
  • The New River and New River Valley offer unlimited outdoor recreation opportunities. Looking for a relaxing float with easy water? Try Independence to Baywood (Map) For the seasoned paddler try Bridle Creek to Independence (Map)



Other Resources