Monday, May 18, 2009

Maury River at Ben Salem Wayside

Ben Salem Wayside is a small park along Route 60 between I-81 and Buena Vista, Virginia. The park offers carry down access to the Maury River as well as parking for several vehicles, picnic tables, and a couple of porta-johns.

I drive past Ben Salem Wayside quite often, but late last week was the first time I've explored the access point with my boat. A nice point bar offers easy access to the river after carrying the boat down a grassy river bank from the parking area. There's a very short area of flatwater immediately adjacent the park with the promise of more just upstream of a small rapid.


On this day, the water level was just high enough that I wasn't able to power through the rapid to continue upstream. However, the water is shallow to one side (ankle deep), so I simply hopped off my 14' Heritage Sea Dart and dragged it to a point immediately upstream of the rapid.


The major downside to this access point is its proximity to Route 60, a busy & noisy 4-lane divided highway. It's not a location for those seeking privacy and seclusion. Things improve somewhat as you head upsteam past the first rapid. The river here meanders away from the highway and offers more flatwater for a casual 45-minute afternoon paddle.


While exploring this part of the river, I came upon a nice point bar with abundant rounded stones. The geologist in me had fun admiring the siliciclastic rocks and granitic-intermediate igneous rocks. A fun project for a undergraduate geology student would be to sample these rocks and trace them (chemically) back to their parent outcrops, somewhere upstream. It's also interesting to compare the rates of erosion and rounding of different rock types.

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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