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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blackwater River - 11/4/14

     This was my fourth trip on the Blackwater River, and my second time putting in at Joyner Bridge. I was hoping to time my trip to catch some of the fall foliage colors along the river, and I was not disappointed. The Blackwater is a slow moving river that flows through swampy lowlands, separating Isle of Wight and Southampton Counties. One dip of the paddle and you know how the river got its name. Since the Blackwater flows through heavily forested areas, tannins are leached into the water, acidifying it and staining it the color of strong tea. This extra acidity also keeps the water relatively clear, albeit dark. The shore is lined with bald cypress and other trees that can take wet feet. On this trip I did not see many birds, just a couple of great blue herons, kingfishers, teals and a pileated woodpecker, but on other trips I have seen much more activity. I guess part of this has to do with it being later in the season.

     Joyner Bridge Landing is a state boat ramp with plenty of parking, but no other facilities. In the summer I found it busy with people fishing from the shore and playing in the water, but it was not crowded. On this trip there was no one else at the landing when I pulled in. Although there is a concrete ramp, I launched from a small sandy beach next to the parking area. I headed upriver (right and north) passing under the bridge. Although I had the river all to myself, the outside world intruded for much of my trip. Joyner Bridge Rd. is near the river for quite a distance, and you can easily hear vehicle traffic, but fortunately it is not a busy road. The water level on this trip was very, very low, which made it easy to get out and explore the shoreline, but this also caused my trip to end sooner than I wanted. Once I got about 2 miles from the landing the deep river became more shallow and narrower, and became more swampy. At this point the river was blocked repeatedly by fallen logs, so I had to turn around making the trip only about 4 miles.


  1. What lovely autumnal colors! I've only gone boating in the summer since the water is too chilly here when the leaves turn. It must have been magical without the summer crowds even if you had to turn back earlier.

  2. Sarah, it was indeed a nice trip, but even in the summer you would be hard pressed to see a crowd. This is a fairly remote place.