Beautiful Waters: Paddling and Water Sports Along the Beerwerks Trail

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Spring is here, and if you’ve been itching to get back on the water, it’s time to break out your paddling gear. Whether it’s a glide on a calm lake with the kids or a heart-pounding dash through whitewater, we have an adventure for you. Make sure to spend the final leg of your adventure at a Beerwerks Trail brewery.


Douthat State Park

45 minutes to Great Valley Farm Brewery.

Even if you don’t have your own gear, you can get in on the water fun at Douthat State Park. The park rents out canoes, paddle boats, stand-up paddleboards, and hydrobikes from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Along with the 50-acre lake for paddling and swimming, this beautiful and historic park offers trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, as well as playgrounds, a restaurant, and facilities for overnight lodging.

Sherando Lake Recreation Area

25 minutes to Seven Arrows Brewing.

Get ready to float your kayak or canoe on 25-acre Sherando Lake this summer. Nicknamed the Jewel of the Blue Ridge, the lake will please visitors who want to boat, swim, fish, or hike. Paddle to the island, or hop out of your boat and wade from the sandy beach. The recreation area offers bathroom and shower facilities, a picnic area, and a campground. Day use fee applies.

Lake Robertson

35 minutes to Devils Backbone Outpost Tap Room & Kitchen.

Rockbridge County’s 31-acre Lake Robertson was built in 1971 and named after Senator A. Willis Robertson, who championed conserving our natural resources. Nestled in the lush green mountains, the scenic recreation area includes boat rentals and a boat launch as well as a pool, playground, hiking trails, campground, and picnic shelter.  No gasoline motors allowed.

Lake Shenandoah

20 minutes to Brothers Craft Brewing.

Located just outside the city of Harrisonburg, Lake Shenandoah is a good option for paddling. The shallow 36-acre lake features a parking lot and a paved boat ramp. No motorized engines, swimming or wading allowed.

Todd Lake Recreation Area

40 minutes to Skipping Rock Beer Company.

Perfect for your kids’ first trip in a boat, Todd Lake is a small, quiet, man-made lake northwest of Staunton. Non-motorized boats can share the 7.5-acre lake with swimmers and fishermen. With a sandy beach, picnic facilities, hiking trails, bathhouse, camping, and a playground, the recreation area is a great fit for a family weekend adventure. Day access fee applies.


Upper James River Water Trail

20 minutes to Great Valley Farm Brewery.

The Upper James River Water Trail stretches along 64 miles of the James River as it winds through Rockingham and Botetourt Counties. This area is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and fishing, and has been designated a Virginia Scenic River. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries operates 12 public access points with free parking. Rapids vary and can reach class III at normal water levels. For gear, check out Lexington’s Walkabout Outfitter or Journey Outdoors or Natural Bridge Station’s Wilderness Canoe Company.

Goshen Pass

45 minutes to Redbeard Brewing Company.

Goshen Pass, where the Maury River cuts through Little North Mountain, is one of the most popular sites for catching whitewater in Virginia. This beautiful six-mile trip includes powerful class II, class III, and even named class IV rapids like Corner Rapid and Devil’s Kitchen. To stretch out your day, tie up your kayak and explore the boulderscape scattered in the riverbed.

Middle River from Westview to Verona

15 minutes to Bedlam Brewing.

Relax while you paddle a gentle, 25-mile section of the Middle River in Augusta County running from Westview to Verona. The river meanders through farmland, offering some lovely pastoral view. This float has easily accessed put in and take out spots and the rapids top out at class II.

Waynesboro Water Trail

5 minutes to Basic City Beer Co.

Want to paddle through town? The Waynesboro Water Trail extends along four picturesque miles of the South River from the Ridgeview Park Boat Ramp to the Basic Park Boat Ramp. Easy-access boat ramps and mild class I and class II rapids are great for beginners. During the summer pool season, the Paddle in the Park program rents kayaks to paddlers without gear of their own. Another good place to rent equipment is Rockfish Gap Outfitters.

Shenandoah River South Fork

30 minutes to Stable Craft Brewing.

The beautiful and popular South Fork Shenandoah River offers almost 100 miles of paddling as it flows northeast toward Front Royal. Launch your canoe at Port Republic and enjoy the scenery of Page Valley, created by Massanutten Mountain rising on the west and the Blue Ridge on the east. Rapids top out at class II and there are 20 public access points. Canoe traffic can be heavy in the summer.

Guided Tours

Kayaking, White Water Rafting or River Tubing with Outdoor Adventure Experiences Inc.

20  minutes to Pale Fire Brewing Co.

If a guided tour is more your speed, book an adventure with Outdoor Adventure Experiences Inc. This company offers full and half-day kayaking excursions from April to November and tubing trips from May to September. You might also gather your crew for a white water rafting ride. Hang on tight for the thrill of a lifetime! Rafting trips launch as long as the temperature is above 50 degrees.

Guided Trips with Massanutten Adventures

25 minutes to Three Notch’d Valley Collab House.

What better way to see the Shenandoah Valley than from the perspective of its namesake river?

Massanutten Adventures has been leading guided canoe, kayak, and tube excursions for 19 years along the Shenandoah River as it runs parallel to Shenandoah National Park. The canoe/kayak season runs from April to October and the tubing season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Paddle and Fish with Wilderness Canoe Company

30 minutes to Devils Backbone Outpost Tap Room & Kitchen.

Wilderness Canoe Company (WCC) lets you decide how you want to float down the James River in Rockbridge County. Choose from canoe, kayak, raft, and tube rentals. Some paddlers may rise to the challenge and run class I, II, and III rapids. Those who want a more laid-back experience can select a fishing-optional tour. Want to make a weekend of it? Paddle in and stay overnight at a primitive campground at their Wilderness Basecamp.