An On-line Journal of My Kayak Adventures in Eastern Virginia

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nottoway River - 10/22/11

     The Nottoway River flows across southside Virginia, joining the Blackwater to form the Chowan River before emptying into the Albermarle Sound in North Carolina.  It is one of only a few rivers in the state that do not end up in the Chesapeake.  For much of its lower section it is a blackwater river, meaning there is enough vegetation surrounding the river that tanins are leached into the water making the pH and nutrient level very low, and turning the water the color of tea.  The Nottoway is popular with anglers, and there are numerous boat ramps and access points along the river.  For my trip I used the Hercules boat ramp in Southampton Co, just south of Franklin on General Thomas Highway (Rte. 671).  

     Once on the river I headed westerly, upstream against the current.  I am sure the river level and current fluctuate according to rainfall.  On this trip they both appeared to be somewhat normal, and for the most part the current was not too strong.  At places where the river narrowed it flowed a little stronger, but not enough to make paddling an ordeal.  Since there are so many trees lining the riverbank, expect to frequently navigate over or around fallen ones.  This part of the Nottoway offers several opportunities to explore side passages, swamps, flooded forests and interesting dead ends. You can also find the occasional island or sandbank where you can get out of the kayak for a stretch.  I continued upstream until I got tired and let the current leisurely carry me back.  All total it was just over 6 miles.

      The whole time I was on the water I felt as if I was in some primeval, exotic location, and not just an hour from home. The river here flows through a cypress/tupelo swamp, an ecosystem that once covered millions of acres across the southeast from Delaware to Texas, but is now relegated to just a few remnant areas. I was able to paddle between ancient trunks of bald cypress, tupelos, red maples and oaks.  These trees were full of noisy birds, and the water was alive with fish.  This stretch of water has become one of my favorite kayak destinations.

View Nottoway River 10.22.11 in a larger map

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