Water Fun Along the Beerwerks Trail

Spread the love

Summer is here, and it’s time to get outside. Whether you’re mowing, barbequing, exploring, or having fun outside, you’ll work up a sweat. Here’s how to cool off with a visit to one of the Valley’s best water features for paddling, swimming, fishing, or hiking. Make sure you finish the day with an icy brew at a nearby Beerwerks brewery.


The area’s rivers and lakes provide both calm water and rapids to explore!

The South River flows through Waynesboro, and the section from Ridgeview Park to Basic Park makes up the 4-mile Waynesboro Water Trail, which connects several parks with launch access for canoes, kayaks, and tubes. It’s also one of only two urban trout fisheries in the state, and anglers can take advantage of launches for small craft, a fishing platform, and habitats constructed for fish. Since the water trail runs through the city, visitors can beach their boats and easily access park and downtown amenities. Nearby Rockfish Gap Outfitters rents canoes and kayaks if you don’t have one of your own. 

The Upper James River Water Trail is one of only three east coast rivers named in Paddling Magazine’s “Best Places to Paddle in America.” Including parts of the James and Maury Rivers, the waterway offers 59 scenic miles with 12 public access points and extensive opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting adventures. The river trail includes smooth, family-friendly stretches and areas of whitewater for those seeking to practice technical skills. If you’re looking for an overnight adventure, hop out and camp at one of many riverside campgrounds. Several stocked trout streams feed into the UJRWT, providing some of Virginia’s best bass, catfish, and sunfish fishing. 


Escape the heat and humidity with a plunge.

Sherando Lake Recreation Area beckons you for the day or weekend with an icy 25-acre spring-fed mountain lake. Not only is it incredibly beautiful, but it’s also a wonderful place to swim, paddle, fish, and play. Spread blankets in the shade as kids frolic on the big, sandy beach. A roped-off swimming area provides safety. The area also has a campground, bathrooms with showers, and miles of hiking and biking trails in the surrounding national forest. Anglers love fishing the lake from a bank, boat, or fishing pier. 

The Massanutten Water Park isn’t a natural body of water, but you’ll definitely have fun! Hit the slides and wave pools inside and out. The park, a top-ten favorite of Parents Magazine, Budget Travel Magazine, and USA Today, offers slides, pools, lazy rivers, and waterless arcade game fun. Rocket headfirst down the Rockingham Racer slide, avoid water cannons in the Massanutten Meltdown, or surf in a wave pool. New outdoor slides include the twisting double-tube Peak Plunge and the zero-gravity sensation, MASS Mayhem. 


With its solitude, scenery, and numerous freshwater species, the Shenandoah Valley is an East Coast fishing hotspot. 

Stocked with brown trout, Mossy Creek makes a worthy destination for experienced fly fishermen. The creek flows through private property, but landowners along with The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and Trout Unlimited have made a four-mile stretch open to the public to fish from the bank.

Located in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Braley Pond boasts a beautiful, forested setting that’s easy to access. The pond is stocked with rainbow trout, and fishermen can also catch largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. Nearby, 54-acre Elkhorn Lake supplies water to the city of Staunton and is managed for both warm and cold-water fishing of largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, and channel catfish. 

One of our favorite locations for introducing kids to the sport is Staunton’s Lake Tams. This stocked 2.5-acre pond is home to largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. This site boasts ample parking, clear and gently sloping banks, and room to set up lawn chairs. It’s also close to playgrounds if the kids need a break. Lake Tams Is home to annual fishing derbies for youth and seniors.  

Waterfall Hikes

Spend a hot spring or summer day hiking to a waterfall. The icy dip will feel incredible.

Many Shenandoah National Park hikes pay off with waterfalls and shaded trails. Located in the southern portion of the park, the Jones/Doyles Falls hike is a 6.6-mile loop with places to dip your feet and some gorgeous spots to photograph the falls. Nearby, the 9.5-mile Riprap Hollow Trail is considered one of the best in the area. Explore the mountain streams as you navigate crossings and photograph a 20-foot waterfall and smaller cascades. The star of the show, however, is an incredible 50-foot-wide swimming hole. 

If you’re visiting the central region of SNP, try the 4.8-mile South River Falls hike. It will take you past two old cemeteries to the base of a striking 83-foot cascade. The popular and moderately difficult hike will get you in the mood for a cold brew. 

1,200-ft high Crabtree Falls is one of the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi. The up-and-back 3.8-mile trail offers close-up vantages of five major cascades and a magnificent view of the Tye River Valley from the top. If you want to swim under a waterfall, set your sights on St. Mary’s Falls. The out-and-back hike totals 4 miles with multiple water crossings along the Saint Mary’s River. The exhilarating payoff is an icy mountain pool and scenic waterfall, so pack a picnic and swimsuit and stay awhile.

Lakes and rivers along the Beerwerks Trail are ideal destinations when the weather gets steamy. Spend a hot afternoon enjoying one of our water features and follow it up with a refreshing visit to a Beerwerks brewery.