Paddling lower Rappahannock and Pamunkey

I am thinking of doing a couple of multi day trips on the Lower Rappahanock and Pamunkey Rivers in Virginia…

I have a Wenonah Prism solo canoe, and have paddled many a solo mile with it on rivers and tidal waters. Anyone paddled the Rappahanock from Fredericksburg to Tappahanock? Is it placid, tidal waters with many camping opportunitys?

How about the Pamunkey River from Route 301 near Richmond to West Point? Camping, obstructions, tidal water? I know it is quite tidal as you near West Point and the York River.

As long as the routes I have discussed are not rocky and will not put a hole in my boat, I’ll be happy. Camping opportunitys are a bonus.

I have as maps the GMCO map of the Lower Rappahanock, and the Mattaponi and Pamunkey River Association Maps of those rivers.

Any help would be appreciated,



I usually scan my route on Google
Earth. Rocks protruding above the surface can be seen, and if the water’s fairly clear, some underwater obstructions may show.

I paddled the final set of rapids in the Rappahannock (sp?) and the river channel should be clearer after that. But then, you may be getting out of the channel. I guess your charts will show the situation.

Scouting for campsites can also be done from space.

Hope this helps…

– Last Updated: Jun-19-12 4:15 PM EST –

I haven't done that section of the Pamunkey in about 20 years or so, back when I was doing more canoeing than seakayaking, but it shouldn't be a problem for you. The section from 301 to West Point opens up fairly quickly to become wide. Above 301 you may encounter a few log jams or other obstructions, but if there are any at all below it you will be able to avoid them or be out of them soon. Depending on river level, there may be a few larger sand bars to camp on after it widens. The land along it is mostly settled with farms, not highly populated, but you want to respect landowners property, of course.

Here is some info from the VA DGIF site:

The Rapp from F'burg to Tappahannock is delightful, suprisingly deep in some spots. You can find fossils in several areas where there are high banks if you look along the shoreline at low tide. Plenty of water here and the tide will be an influence as will the wind. The river is pretty wide for most of this trip. There is Lands End Wildlife Management Area where you may be able to camp (check the VADGIF site for primitive camping info and access), and Naylors Beach a little further down just before you get to the 360 bridge where you can camp for a small fee. The area along this section is populated and developed in spots, so commando camping opportunities may be limited. It is too deep for any decent sand bars and I don't recall many islands. You may also want to consider a visit a little further down from Tappahannock at Belle Isle State Park or even a paddle from Tappahannock to Belle Isle as a destination. Definitely worth a stop, it is one of the nicest state parks in the area.

Here's the DGIF Rapp info:

I live there!
I live near the Rappahannock down river of Fredericksburg. If you don’t want any rapids you can start at old mill park in Fredericksburg. From there down it’s all tidal flat water.

I’ve only paddled from there down to Hopyard farm in King George, there isn’t really any camping sites there that I know of but there are a few places you can get away with stealth camping. Also plenty of fishing spots as well.

If you want some rapids, you may want to consider starting up river at Kelly’s ford or Eli’s ford on the Rapidan. It’s still mostly flat water, but there are some class I and II rapids with a nice set just before the highway one bridge.

When you decide what your going to paddle let me know and I may be able to help you with a shuttle or paddle partway with you.


Rappahannock river paddling…
Thanks, Mcderms.

I’ll let you know as I get closer to the trip, it will probably be within the next two-three weeks. I’m goin to scout put ins and takeouts this Friday by vehicle…

I think I’ll do the Fredericksburg to Tappahanock trip on the Rappahanock first, then do the Pamunkey…

Lower Rappahanock

– Last Updated: Jun-21-12 10:11 PM EST –

is all tidal waters with paddling opportunities the whole lenqth--one of your problems is lack of public (or private) campgrounds--there are some and since it's a rural area most of the banks down river from fredericksburg are undeveloped--and you could probably camp on them without disturbing anybody but you would be trespassing and would have to leave it ordered or be subject to arrest--

there are some campgrounds(Belle Isle State Park) and I suspect many riparian owners might let you set up a tent for a night(you might offer to pay them) You should also be aware that the closer to the bay you get, the wider the river becomes and the last 20 miles or so are more like ocean paddling so your skill level should be up to it

I live in Fredericksburg and paddle on the lower Rapp a lot--so feel free to send me a message also if you would like a paddling partner for a day.