Outdoor Adventures:

Fishing & Swimming

With its solitude, beautiful scenery, and bodies of water boasting numerous species, the Shenandoah Valley is an East Coast hotspot for freshwater fishing. Whether you’d rather cast your line in a lake, river, or fresh mountain stream, we’ve found your new favorite fishing hole. The Valley is also home to swimming spots, lakes for family fun, and rivers for kayaking and canoeing.


Whether it’s the lure of native trout brook trout or a stocked urban fishery, the Shenandoah Valley has incredible fly fishing. 

Augusta County

  • The Waynesboro Water Trail is the section of the South River that flows for 4 miles through the heart of downtown Waynesboro. It’s great for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. In fact, it’s one of only two urban trout fisheries in the state. New to fishing? Book a guided fly fishing trip with the experts at South River Fly Shop
  • Families who are new to fishing should cast a line in Staunton’s Lake Tams. This stocked 2.5-acre pond is home to largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. This site boasts ample parking and wide, easy-to-access banks.
  • The North River flows eastward through Augusta County and eventually joins the South River to form the South Fork of the Shenandoah. Hike into the headwaters above Elkhorn Lake to fish for wild brook trout. Below Elkhorn Dam, stocked sections of the river are designated both delayed harvest and put and take.

Rockingham County

  • 118-acre Switzer Reservoir is located in the George Washington National Forest and provides drinking water to the city of Harrisonburg. Trout flourish in the cold, clean water that can reach more than 100 feet in depth. There’s a boat launch for canoes and kayaks, the best way to fish in this lake.
  • Easily waded Dry River is a phenomenal stream for catching brook trout. There are several pull-offs and access points located along Rt. 33, with some within 15 minutes of downtown Harrisonburg. A large floodplain along the banks of the river facilitates fly fishing. For the best advice on fishing in Rockingham County, visit Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.
  • Shenandoah National Park’s Madison Run headwaters can be found near the Skyline Drive, but you can access it near Port Republic and hike upstream for the best fishing. You’ll find lots of 6-8-inch brook trout with a chance for bigger specimens. With good water flow, you’ll get about 2 miles of fishable stream.

Rockbridge County

  • The Maury River in Rockbridge County is stocked with brown and rainbow trout and also native brookies. The headwaters are a challenging spot for fly fishing and downstream, in the warmer waters, carp and small-mouth bass are plentiful.
  • The Upper James River Water Trail offers 59 miles of beautiful scenery for canoeing and kayaking as well as some of the best fishing in Virginia. Anglers catch smallmouth, spotted, and largemouth bass, channel and flathead catfish, and sunfish. Several stocked trout streams feed into the James. 
  • Scenic 31-acre Lake Robertson’s recreation area offers boat rentals, a boat launch, and a campground. The clear lake averages depths of 18 feet and anglers can catch largemouth bass.




Want to cool off on a hot day? Whether you want a hard hike or a short stroll from a parking area, our lakes and swimming holes all boast cold mountain water and beautiful views.

Rockbridge County

  • The gorge that creates Goshen Pass is a lovely spot for swimming in the Maury River. You’ll find giant boulders for lounging as well as a gravel beach area.
  • More out-of-the-way swimming holes include the 7-acre Cave Mountain Lake near Natural Bridge and Panther Falls, a spot fed by waterfalls and edged with boulders.

Augusta County

  • Augusta County boasts Sherando Lake – the upper lake for fishing and the lower, larger 25-acre lake for swimming. Camping and picnic areas make this a fun family escape. 
  • For something a little more invigorating, try the 9-mile Riprap Trail loop, which starts on the Skyline Drive and leads visitors to a giant natural pool.

Rockingham County

  • A 20-minute drive outside of Harrisonburg will get you to Todd Lake for swimming, boating, camping, and picnicking. The stream-fed lake has a sandy beach and restroom facilities. 
  • You don’t need to finish the entire 4.2-mile Fridley Gap hike. The hike parallels the creek with areas to wade, tiny waterfalls, and a small swimming hole less than a mile from the trailhead.

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