Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cowpasture River at Walton Tract - August 2009

Paddling on the Cowpasture River in Virginia is provided by the state at the Walton Tract, a farm donated to the state for recreational purposes. Located off Route 42 north of Clifton Forge, a 2 mile section of the river along the Walton Tract is legally navigable to the public. Access to the river is available on the south end of the property (see my posting here) and also at the north end which is where I visited today.

The canoe/kayak access on the north end of the Walton Tract is accessible via a small road, along which four-wheel drive with clearance is required. The road is fairly wild and wooly, with very steep, rocky, & rutted sections, and I would not attempt it in a car.

Access to the river itself is via a gravel sandbar. I chose to paddle upstream first, as I usually do, until I encountered the first set of rapids.

The water along the river was very clear, with no hint of silt. The river bottom was visible at any point on the river. In fact, the bottom itself was covered with rounded pebbles to the point that it looked like some type of pavement.

The first set of rapids was about 10 minutes upstream. The rapids themselves represent a one-foot drop in the level of the river, and it was not possible to power through them (although it would be fairly easy to walk over them).

I chose to turn around and paddle back downstream through the next set of downstream rapids. They were pretty tame, and it looked like a simple matter to power back through them on my way back to the put in.

I continued downstream until I encountered the second set of downstream rapids. These appeared to be quite long, so I paddled back upstream, through the set of small rapids I had just come through, to the put in location.

The river access here provides the flatwater paddler with enough water for a 30 minute paddle. For those with a shuttle (4WD), a 2-mile stretch of the river would be available between the north and south access points at the Walton Tract, along a wide meander.

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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