North Anna

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The North Anna is one of the Piedmont’s most beautiful rivers. Unfortunately, a large portion of the river is underwater in what is now Lake Anna. Canoeing this stretch is dependent on releases from Lake Anna so don't necessarily except rainfall in this watershed to translate into higher water levels.  There is an unusual variety of underwater rocks and ledges, and the bluffs along the river are gorgeous.  I don’t remember seeing a single house along the 9 mile stretch that includes the fall line.  Fishing is fantastic, and there is plenty of wildlife.  With enough water you can put in right below the dam and float some 35 miles to Rt 1. There is one man made, dam realated rapid just downstream of the dam so scout and use caution.

The most interesting part is probably in the 15 miles west of Rt 1, over the fall line.  This river is runnable in spring and early summer, perhaps, or after a rain.  I don’t recommend running it in winter without a wet suit and dry top because of the possibility of flipping in the big fall line rapid.

Check the USGS site "North Anna above Little River, nr Doswell, VA" for water level information. 300cfs is a comfortable trip. 200 cfs is probably close to canoeing zero. Also check the other gauges at the USGS Virginia Site.

Recommended Trips:

  • Put in at Hewlett Road put in (private, costs $1) and go to Rt 1.  This is about 9 miles, should take all day if you do the proper amount of fishing.
  • For less fishing and more river, put in at Landora Road a few miles upstream of Hewlett and float all the way to Rt 1.  This would make about a 14 mile trip, and should also take all day to give enough time for scenery and fish appreciation.

Directions to Put In and Take Out:

View North Anna in a larger map

Landora Bridge Road put in (unofficial) is on Landora Bridge Road between Jericho Road in Spotsylvania and Verdon Road in Hanover County, about 15 minutes or so west of Rt 1. Be considerate of landowners.

Hewlett Rd put in is a nice private put in with a requested donation of $1 per boat to pay for upkeep. This fee is well worth it!  It can also be accessed via Verdon or Jericho Road.

Rt 1 take out is on river right, on the south bank.  It is an official take out with parking. It on the south side of the river on the east side of Rt 1.

Sections of River to Run:

Landora Bridge Road to Hewlett Road: This is a remote, pretty stretch of river with fewer rapids than the part from Hewlett to Route 1.  It takes an hour and a half or two to run from here to Hewlett, with no rapids other than a small riffle just upstream of the Hewlett Bridge.

Hewlett Road to Route 1: This is one of the most outstanding stretches of river in the state.  There are many little ledges and gravel bars with deep, beautiful holes that are just full of smallmouth, largemouth, and fallfish.  Some of these suckers are big.  This is worth fishing thoroughly, particularly the deep holes, which can produce several large fish apiece.  This 9 miles is supremely lovely, with nice rocks and mature hardwood forest and absolutely no sprawl.

You’ll get to the fall line rapid most of the way through the trip.  You’ll know you’re there because there is a long boulder garden that will be quite scrapey at lower water levels.  If it is not scrapey you’d better get ready because that means the main rapid will be real big and nasty.  The main rapid consists of two drops, the second of which has a pinning rock on its left side.  Make sure you don’t run up on this.  The drops are in quick succession; you won’t have time to eddy out between them unless you’re in a kayak.  Scout from the right bank; if you don’t you’re more likely to pin/flip in the last drop.  You can always portage to the left or line it through tight along the bank on the right.  If the boulder garden was scrapey then the main rapid shouldn’t be too big, nothing more than an easy class 3.  I’ve run it at middling water levels and it is a little harder, but never at high water, where it might be too dangerous for an open boat.

Additional information