Rappahannock River Water Trail
Fredericksburg, VA
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

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Brief Description:

The Rappahannock River, the longest free flowing river in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, extends from its origin at Chester Gap in the Shenandoah National Park of western Virginia to Stingray Point in the Chesapeake Bay, a total of 184 miles.

Development of a water trail along a portion of the Rappahannock is being coordinated by the Friends of the Rappahannock in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. The water trail will cover historical paddling trips from Kelly's Ford to the Fredericksburg City Docks – the middle section of the river.

While there are many locations along the Rappahannock that are accessible for paddling and boating, the Rappahannock River Water Trail is still just developing. Boaters and paddlers are responsible for their own safety. Remember that boating, canoeing, kayaking and other activities on rivers can be dangerous.

The section of the Rappahannock River from just below the Route 95 bridge to just below the cut stone abutment remains of the former 1854 Crib Dam and former concrete Embry Dam is open for Public Use. The former flat water area now consists of class I to III white water rapids which should be carefully scouted. Several areas of dangerous strainers (trees, brush and undercut rocks) can be found on the river's right side. River conditions can be expected to change due to the recent removal of the dams and related sediment. The Rappahannock River is now the longest free-flowing river on the United States east coast.

Location / Directions:

Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) Office:

From I 95 take Exit 130-B - Route 3 West. Take a right at the third stop light onto Bragg Rd. Follow Bragg for about 2 1/2miles (it will change names to Fall Hill Ave.) You will pass a 7-11 on the left and the go down a long hill. At the bottom of the hill you will cross a bridge over the Rappahannock Canal. Just after the canal on your left, you will see a sign on the left that says "Virginia Outdoor Center" and (smaller) "Friends of the Rappahannock". Turn left just before that sign onto our gravel driveway. FOR is on the top floor of the rustic wooden building.

Physical Address: Rappahannock River Water Trail
3219 Fall Hill Avenue
Fredericksburg, VA 22404
Mailing Address: Rappahannock River Water Trail
P.O. Box 7254
Fredericksburg, VA 22404
Phone: (540) 373-3448
E-mail: info@riverfriends.org
Activities: White Water kayaking, Canoeing, Tubing, fishing, hiking, picnicing, bicycling, birdwatching, and historical tours are available at or near the river access sites.

Biking Birding and Wildlife Viewing Boat Access Hiking Picnicking Canoeing / Kayaking

Operating Hours:

Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) Office and Water Trail Visitor Center is generally open weekdays 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Public river access sites are accessible during daylight hours whenever the official water level gauge near Fredericksburg, VA indicates the river is BELOW 3.2 feet. Check the current river level at the FOR web site and the current weather conditions upstream to avoid dangerous rising river levels.

Fees: There are no fees for accessing Rappahannock River public landing sites in Fredericksburg area.
Visitor Facilities: Restrooms are available at the Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) Office and at local visitor centers. Boat launch, car-top paddling craft put-ins and free parking is available at designated public access sites. Local outfitters/outdoor centers provide appropriate equipment and transportation services on a fee for service basis.
Length: 37 miles / 60 kilometers
Accessibility: City of Fredericksburg and County Visitor Centers are handicapped accessible.
Website: http://www.riverfriends.org
Safety Info: Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Water trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate rivers. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, the National Park Service and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of water trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials. [View a list of water safety tips]
River Classification: Class I and II. Near Fredericksburg, there are some stretches of Class III. Read more about the different levels of River Classifications.

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network - Comments or Questions: Call: 1-800-YOUR-BAY