Rockbridge County Offers Unique Summer Paddle & Pole Adventures

Paddle Boarding in Lexington on the Maury River.

Just a short 50 minute drive from Roanoke, Rockbridge County offers some of Virginia’s most pristine rivers and streams and a diverse range of paddle (kayaking, canoeing) and pole (fishing) summer fun opportunities for all skill levels and interests.


Virginia’s largest river, the James, flows through Rockbridge County and offers a wide variety of activities such as tubing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and overnight camping trips. Wildlife abounds on shore and on the water, and lucky visitors might spot the occasional bald eagle overhead.

The Upper James River Water Trail follows the river from its headwaters as it winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains in two of Virginia’s most scenic counties. The water trail includes nearly 75 miles of river, 59 of which are designated a “Virginia Scenic River.” With numerous public access points along the trail, paddlers can choose a brief half-day float or a multi-day camping adventure.

The Wilderness Canoe Company provides guided wilderness adventures for visitors on the Upper James River. This outfitter assists individuals, families and groups for canoe, kayak, and tubing. Day and overnight trips are available. Primitive camping is available.

Twin River Outfitters also offers guided paddle tours and rentals. The most popular trip is a scenic paddle tour from Eagle Rock’s Horseshoe Bend to Buchannan. If lifting a paddle isn’t your thing, plopping into an inner tube – on the Maury or the James – is a fine alternative. Twin River Outfitters offers a fun 1.5 hour float trip.

When the Upper James is at its normal water level, the trail includes mostly Class I & II Rapids, which makes it an excellent choice for paddlers of all skill levels including beginners or families with children. Travel + Leisure magazine ranked the Upper James River Water Trail as an activity “worthy of – and not too scary for – beginning adventurers” in Teresa Bergen’s 2016 article, Get Your Thrills in Safe Doses on the Vacations for Adventure Travel Novices.


Looking for a pole adventure? Expert fishing guides are available to help plan the perfect day on the Upper James River. If you want to explore the outdoors, local John Roberts is an expert fly fishing veteran with over 58 seasons. His guided trout fishing trips and introductory fly-fishing classes have been featured in Southern Living and the Discovery TV Channel.

Bordered by sun-dappled mountains, lively rivers, and shimmering lakes, outdoor parks in Rockbridge County are, simply put, stunning. They’re also light on crowds, which makes them prime spots for fishing, picnicking, relaxing and letting the kids range free.

Lake Robertson is a recreational area surrounded by an abundance of wildlife in a beautiful, quiet and natural environment perfect for fishing and camping. Tent and full hook-up sites are available. It is close to the Thomas Jefferson and George Washington National Forests and is near the Goshen Wildlife Refuge Management Area. Nearby are Natural Bridge State Park, Goshen Pass, and the birthplaces of Sam Houston and Woodrow Wilson.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area welcomes generations of families who enjoy the rustic beauty and peacefulness of the area. Grab your pole for a perfect day of trout fishing on the lake.

Goshen Pass, Ben Salem Wayside, and Glen Maury Park are additional places to drop your fishing line. Check-out Lexington’s outdoor recreation website to learn more:

To learn more about Lexington & the Rockbridge Area Tourism Office or to download a free visitor guide, visit

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