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

Monday, September 15, 2014

James River - Herring Creek - 9/14/14

     This trip was serendipitous. I had left the house intending to paddle the Chickahominy again, but at the last minute changed my mind and headed another 15 miles to put in at Wilcox Wharf (Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park), just west of Charles City Co. Courthouse. The relatively new park has a few trails, clean restrooms, a fishing pier, and a concrete ramp to access the James River. This stretch of the river is rich in history with several famous plantations nearby, and it also witnessed dramatic events during the Civil War. However, I came to enjoy an early morning on the river and to clear a muddled head, and as it turned out, it became one of my favorite paddles.

     From the landing you can cross the river towards a small island and the James River National Wildlife Refuge beyond, however the day I was there the river was being dredged, and paddling across also means keeping a careful eye out for power boats and commercial traffic. Another option would be to head left (east) to explore nearby Queens Creek, but I wanted go upriver to Herring Creek, which is right and west. The shoreline here is relatively natural, and I saw an abundance of wildlife, including river otters, large fish jumping out of the water, kingfishers, great blue herons, great egrets, and numerous bald eagles. I also found fine examples of one of my favorite trees, the bald cypress, as well as many late summer wildflowers.

     About 3 miles from the landing is the entrance to Herring Creek, named for the fish that was once more common here. Just inside the creek's mouth is a large derelict wooden barge that is worth paddling near. It has been there long enough for a community of plants and animals to call it home. Herring Creek also contains many acres of freshwater marsh, and on the day I paddled, the ripening wild rice was swaying in the breeze. I continued until I reached Evelynton Plantation, one of the area's more impressive homes, gawked a bit, and then made my way back. As I paddled it, the trip was about 9 miles. Though Herring Creek and the James are mostly fresh this far inland, they are still subject to the tides, however the wind coming off the broad river gave me more trouble than the flow of water.

Wilcox Wharf

James River

James River

Duck Blind 

James River

James River

Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed)

Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke)

Herring Creek

Herring Creek

Zizania aquatica var. aquatica (Wild Rice)

Derelict Barge on Herring Creek

Evelynton Plantation

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