The Waynesboro Parks and Recreation Department has put the finishing touches on the Waynesboro Water Trail, a two-to-three-hour trip that takes paddlers by four of Waynesboro’s public parks. Take-out spots near each of the parks allow visitors to shorten the trip, and those wanting a longer trip can continue on to Crimora Park, Grand Caverns Park, Grottoes Park, and Port Republic, where the South River flows into the North to become the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, all part of the larger South River Blueway.
The city’s portion is not a demanding paddle, said Ryan DeMarmels, a Parks and Recreation staff member, but it has plenty of features to keep it interesting. There’s a small rapids and a short (100 feet or so) portage. The most interesting feature, though, said Stephanie Seltzer, also of the Parks and Recreation staff, is that kayakers are actually paddling through the city, although there are ample stretches of serene, untroubled South River water that seem completely cut off from anything urban. The city’s done everything possible to make access easy for beginning paddlers. There’s a launching chute at Ridgeview Park, the spot near downtown where the trail typically starts, that requires no more than a nudge to position a kayak on the river. People wanting to get a feel for the river before tackling the trail can rent kayaks furnished by the city on Sundays from 1 to 6, for a more restricted paddle both upriver and downriver. De Marmels said there are signs in the water that advise kayakers how far to take the rentals.
There are several suggestions as to how a lone kayaker might traverse the water trail: starting upstream (at Basic Park), paddling south to Ridgeview Park and floating back; or leaving a bike at the place provided at the takeout. Otherwise, you’ll need a friend or fellow paddler to provide a second car or a ride back to the start.
Fishing is encouraged, although only trout are considered safe to eat.
For more information, visit the city’s website at waynesboro.va.us.