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See the Blue Ridge Mountains as you have never seen them before.

On these suggested trips, you will experience the unspoiled beauty of the river as you pass through scenic valleys and pass rolling farmland keeping a watchful eye out for native wildlife. Some Class I & Class II rapids along your journey will make a fun-filled day for all members of the family by canoe, kayak, or tube.



This inaugural event will provide education to the public about The Upper James River Water Trail & its amenities. From boating to fishing, to camping & swimming, the James River offers variety and entertainment to visitors and residents alike.

If you are interested in being an exhibitor, contact Buchanan Town Hall at 540-254-1212.

If you would like to participate in the boat race (float only), contact Twin River Outfitters at 540-261-7334.


Iron Gate to Gala
This 10 mile (4 – 5 hours) float features quick current and impressive mountain views. The trip starts at the Iron Gate boat launch below the route 220 bridge about 1 mile below the below the confluence of the Jackson and the Cowpasture rivers. This trip contains a lot of easy Class I rapids as well as two Class II rapids. The second Class II rapid is locally called "the Squeeze" and should be carefully scouted before being paddled. The trip features good views of Patterson Mountain along the way as well some impressive cliffs upstream of Gala. The trip ends at the Gala boating access located up Sinking Creek about 100 feet past the railroad bridge.
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Gala to Craig Creek
This 4 mile (1 – 2 hours) short float has plenty of easy Class I rapids to enjoy. This trip starts on Sinking Creek from the Gala boating access and enters the James River under a railroad bridge. There are plenty of rapids along this stretch to make this a fun quick trip option. This fload is also popular for fishing and river tubing. The trip ends at the DGIF Craig Creek gravel shoreline access in Eagle Rock.
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Craig Creek to Horseshoe Bend
This 13 mile (5 – 6 hours) float has numerous Class I rapids and a few very easy Class II rapids along the way. The trip is the most remote of all of the trips in the Upper James River Water Trail and was ranked in the June 2009 edition of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine as one of the best Class I trips in the Southeast. A 10 mile portion of this trip has been designated a “Virginia Scenic River" section. This trip also includes some of the most impressive remains of the James & Kanawha River Canal (All located on private property so please view them from the river only). This trip makes a great full day float but be sure to bring food and water and remember to pack out what you pack in.
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Horseshoe Bend to Springwood
A 3.5 mile (1 – 1.5 hours) float, this short and fun trip containing several Class I rapids and a moderately challenging Class II rapid known as Ritchies Falls about 10 minutes into the float. This entire float is within the designated "Scenic River" which ends at the Springwood boat landing. Some folks also tube this section, but it can take several hours in low water. This trip is typically combined with the Springwood to Buchanan trip to making a longer 9 mile trip on the river.
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Springwood to Buchanan
This 5 mile (2 hours) trip is the easiest of all floats in Botetourt County; great for first time paddlers or folks fishing. This trip contains a few easy Class I rapids including a ½ mile section of swift water with Class I rapids about 10 minutes into the trip with another stretch of Class I rapids below the I-81 Bridge. The middle section of this trip is mostly flat water with some impressive views of Purgatory Mountain. This trip is very popular for small mouth bass and Muskie fishing. This trip starts at the Springwood boat landing and ends at the public boat landing in downtown Buchanan just above the swinging bridge.
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Buchanan to Arcadia
This 6 mile (2 ½ hours) float is a fun float with good rapids and current. The trip includes three Class II rapids that can be challenging in higher water conditions (above 4 ft on the Buchanan River Gauge). The trip is very popular with local paddlers, especially on weekends. The trip features some impressive mountain views and is fairly remote once you leave the Buchanan area. Remains of Wasp Dam from the James & Kanawha Canal era can be found about 3 miles into the trip on river left. Trip ends at the Arcadia boat landing (on river right) under the Arcadia (Route 614) bridge.
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Arcadia to Alpine
This 4.5 mile (1 – 2 hours) section contains several easy Class I rapids and two fun Class II rapids at normal water levels. This part of the river is remote and has some great mountain views. This stretch is also excellent for smallmouth bass fishing. This section is routinely combined with the Buchanan to Arcadia section, making a great full day float.
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Buchanan to Glasgow
This 21 mile (8 – 9 hours) trip is normally a 2 day float with an overnight, camping in the National Forest 12 miles below Buchanan. The first six miles of this trip are in Botetourt County and are part of the Upper James River Water Trail. The trip contains a lot of fun rapids and some of the best mountain views available as the James River winds its way along the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. About one mile beyond Alpine, below the county line starts about 4 miles of national forest land on the river's right where overnight canoe camping is permitted. The take out at Glasgow requires a lengthy carry of equipment to the parking area.

More paddling opportunities in the scenic mountains of Virginia can be found in the Alleghany Highlands, including on the Jackson and Cowpasture rivers which meet to form the mighty James River. Visit www.alleghanyhighlandsblueway.com for more details.


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