The Appomattox River from the dam at Lake Chesdin to the confluence with the James River in Hopewell is a designated Virginia State Scenic River that provides a unique and beautiful setting for both whitewater and flatwater paddlers, as well as for powerboaters and fishermen. Virginia Scenic River designation is only given to rivers and streams that possess outstanding scenic, recreational, historic and natural characteristics. You can still see the culture and history of the river with the visible remains of dams, locks and canals.
The Appomattox River offers boaters a variety of experiences – whitewater, flatwater, and tidal waters. The western/upper portion of the Appomattox River from Brasfield Dam at Lake Chesdin down to Campbell’s Bridge in Petersburg can be powerful and remote. High water levels and cold conditions increase this danger. The natural fall line runs through the City of Petersburg at University Blvd/Campbell’s Bridge. The flatwater section begins at Patton Park in Petersburg where the river becomes tidal. Tide charts should be consulted when planning a trip on this portion of the river. Visit our River Conditions page to plan your trip.
The river is not patrolled and rescue is difficult. Please let others know of your river plans, and study our interactive river map to see locations of boat launches and marinas so you know how to get off the river.
CLASSES & RENTALS ON THE APPOMATTOX
TO PREVENT PROBLEMS
- Wear a life jacket. If paddling whitewater wear a helmet
- Recognize and avoid hazards: Fallen trees, debris piles and dams
- Wear a wet suit in spring, fall and winter
- Carry throw ropes and first aid kits
- Never paddle alone
- Know and prepare for the weather
- Don’t paddle after dark
- Use supplemental boat floatation
- Alcohol and paddling do not mix
IF YOU GET INTO TROUBLE
- Float on your back with feet up, pointed downstream
- Do not try to stand up in swift water
- Stay upstream of your capsized boat
- Get to shore as soon as possible
- Call 911
- Respect private property
- Don’t litter – pack out all trash
- Paddlers should pass fishermen quietly and give lots of room
- Don’t block ramps and access points – they are for launching and retrieving boats only
There are many great spots for both bank and pier fishing at our local parks that can be found on our interactive map.
A wide range of fish species are in the Appomattox River, listed below. Striped bass, walleye and saugeye run out of Lake Chesdin seasonally, providing a seasonal fishery in the Appomattox.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources keeps track of the many types of fish in the river. Currently, their list includes:
- Largemouth & smallmouth bass
- Kentucky spotted bass
- Redbreast sunfish
- Hard-fighting minnows like fall fish and chubs
A fishing license is required for anyone fishing over the age of 16 and can be purchased from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Fishing licenses can be purchased online.
- Carry out what you bring in and never leave behind plastic containers or packaging. Fishing line is very dangerous to birds and other wildlife, so pick up and recycle
- Don’t crowd other boats
- Give fellow fisherman some space
- Don’t cast near other people, and always look around before making a cast
- Don’t cross another angler’s line
- Do observe regulations and catch limits
- Never waste fish. If you catch a fish that is under the legal or minimum size or that you do not want to keep, release it quickly
The Appomattox River Trail and Park System is a developing 25-mile bicycle-pedestrian greenway. There are several sections of the trail on the ground and 11 riverside parks you can enjoy. Find your next outdoor adventure on our interactive map or download the Explore the Appomattox River Trail Map.
Learn more about how we’re Building the Trail.
REMEMBER SOME OF THESE TIPS FROM THE AMERICAN HIKING SOCIETY
- Stay on trails. Do not enter private property
- Leave no trace behind. Don’t toss your trash – not even biodegradable items
- Leave what you find
- Hike quietly. Speak in low voices
- Turn your cell phone down, if not off
- If taking a break, move off the trail to allow others to pass by
- When bringing a pet, be sure to keep it on a leash and don’t forget to pack out pet waste
- Don’t feed the wildlife
- If hiking in a group, don’t take up the whole width of the trail; allow others to pass
- No motorized equipment except for official and emergency vehicles and motorized wheelchairs
TRAIL MAINTENANCE & TRASH
All public parks and trails along the Appomattox River are owned and maintained by the jurisdiction in which they are located. Please report trash and trail maintenance issues directly to local government, listed below. FOLAR organizes bi-annual river clean-ups and trail maintenance to bolster the efforts of our local Parks & Recreation Departments, and we are grateful for their partnership in developing and maintaining the Appomattox River Trail and Park System.
There are plenty of great places to eat or shop after a day spent outdoors at the Appomattox River, like The Boathouse at City Point (pictured here) with a patio that overlooks the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers. The Appomattox River River and Trail run through six communities with lots of fun activities and historical sites: Chesterfield County, Dinwiddie County, the City of Petersburg, the City of Colonial Heights, Prince George County, and the City of Hopewell. For more information on where to dine, visit or stay in the region, please visit: