Paddle Virginia

My wife and I are planning on retiring within the next 12 months and are looking into finding our perfect retirement location. Hiking, biking and paddling are very important to us as well as culture opportunities. We presently live in CT and while it offers much of what we like, it is too expensive to live here so we are looking into Charlottesville, Virginia (University town is a must). While I see plenty of biking and hiking opportunities, I do not see lakes or quiet rivers for kayaking. Could someone give me ideas for paddling in Virginia (other than the obvious - Atlantic coast)? We now enjoy the Connecticut River and some of the lakes in CT as well as the Adirondacks. Any advice will be appreciated.

Here are a few. Smith Mountain Lake, Kerr Reservoir, Lake Gaston, Shenandoah River, Lake Anna. I’m sure that others will chime in with more.

Welcome to Cville
There are plenty of options for all types of water sports activities. Within the surrounding county of Albemarle, there are a few small lakes - Chris Greene, Walnut Creek, and Beaver creek. More information can be obtained on the Albemarle County web site regarding those bodies of water. There’s also the SF Rivanna Reservoir which is larger, but not as big as the lakes mentioned by the previous poster which are an hour or more away.

If rivers are more to your liking, the Rivanna flows through Charlottesville. It’s mostly flat, howver there are a few class II’s in a 4 mile stretch right outside of town. It’s generally runnable all year except for dry summer months.

Within an hour drive or so, you have the James, SF Shenandoah, Rappahannock rivers which flow all or most of the year and are generally lazy rivers with no more than class II rapids.

I suggest checking out the Coastal Canoeists web site ( for Virginia paddling info. The majority of memebers lean towards whitewater, however there’s a good bunch that enjoy flatwater paddling too.

And if you like books, Virginia Whitewater by Roger Corbett is a good one along with Classic Virginia Rivers by Ed Grove.

Has she been bad?

places to paddle
As OC1 mentioned, there are lots of paddling opportunities in the area. If flat water is your game, In addition to OC1’s suggestions, there is also the C’ville resovoir, I’m not sure how many miles are available there, but it’s where the UVA crew team practices. You’ll see lots of fishermen, but there’s no gas motors allowed (except for the UVA Crew coaches boat) so boat traffic isn’t an issue. The new river is also available w/in about 2 to 2-1/2 hrs. & of course, the whole tidewater area is also about 2-1/2 hrs if you need to get your saltwater fix.

On a side note, I wouldn’t neccesarily say that C’ville exactly falls in the affordable living catagory, but I guess that’s always relative.

Lake Monticello
Not sure exactly what you are looking for, but consider Lake Monticello in Fluvanna County. Twenty minute drive to C’ville. Lake is 350 acres and seriously underutilized on all but summer weekends. The Rivanna runs right past the neighborhood with a nice put in about 1 mile from where I live.

Housing is pretty diverse starting about $160 for a starter ranch, $250 for a 4 br/2500 sf, and waterfront homes ranging from $450 - $600k. Zip is 22963 if you are looking for listings online.

Virginia Sea Kayak
check out these folks

You need to become a Colonial Kayaker…
C’ville is nice. But have you considered Williamsburg, VA? I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but I believe it has to be the retirement capital of Virginia.

College town you say? You have the prestigous William & Mary right here! Christopher Newport Univ. and their impressive Ferguson Center for the Arts is next door in Newport News, VA. (VCU, ODU, Richmond U, Hampton U are all short car drives away as well).

Locally, we have many kayaking opportunities. You want a river, we’ve got James River, York River and Chickahominy River right here in town. Other rivers like Appamatox and Rappahanock (spelling?) are short drives away. We also have more creeks than you can shake a stick at…College Creek, Powhatan Creek, Morris Creek, etc. Wanna bay…how about the Chesapeake or Mobjack. Ocean…Outer Banks, VA and Virginia Beach are a short trip away (I recommend OBX). We even have a couple of lakes and reservoirs.

Also an hour away are two great kayaking destinations…Mathews, VA and the Northern Neck (Fleets Island/White Stone).

Other things to note: You always have something going on in the historic triangle activity-wise.

We have three kayak outfitters within driving distance. Appomatox River Co. in Yorktown (based in Farmville, VA); Virginia Sea Kayak Center (based in Chesapeake, VA) and Bay Trails Outfitters (based in Mathews, VA).

I love this location, b/c I seem to be about 3 hours give or take from everything. D.C. 2 1/2. Baltimore 3. Raleigh 3 1/2. OBX 2 1/2. VA Beach 1.

Let me know if you’d like more info. I’ll post a link that’s saved on my laptop of different launches around the area later today.

has promised…
The left hand column on this site lists a plethora of launch sites in the Hampton Roads area:

This one’s good too:

James City, York, Gloucester, Surry, Mathews are all nearby counties to Wmbg.

Thank you
Thanks to all who have responded. I found the information helpful. My wife and I are driving to Charlottesville this fall to survey the area. Again, thank you.

Roanoke River
I’ve never paddled the Roanoke, but I did go the river in a motorized boat for a field trip for work. It is a beautiful slow, moving river that is on the NC and VA border. You might want to check it out.