The Blackwater River is normally a calm waterway. It does have a history of flooding during Nor'easters, hurricanes and tropical storms so be wary if you are paddling in the wake of any those events.
We fled the large area of rain in the metro area of Hampton Roads to paddle the Blackwater River. We got lucky and there was no rain during our paddle.
We launched and headed south on the river. We traveled about 1 1/4 miles before we reached an area where many trees had fallen and/or collected in the river. Not wishing to climb over trees for a portage we turned around and headed north. But on our way south we were treated to the songs of many birds.
There are a few houses on the river in this stretch and the paddle was pleasantly winding. We soon reached our starting point and proceeded northward on the river. The north section follows the road for a bit so there is some traffic noise that you don't get on the southern portion. It was not enough to ruin the paddle though.
We paddled only a mile or two north but did not hit any deadfalls or blockages of any kind. We saw only one small green snake as he swam near the bank and climbed onto a nearby stump. He was brilliant green against the dark stump. Of course we were treated to the sightings of many birds including the Barn Swallows that nest under the bridge at the ramp.
There is enough solid bankside on this river to stop for a quick stretch or a lunch. There is adjacent private land but if you stick to the immediate shoreline you probably will not have any problems. We arrived back at the beach were we loaded the kayaks and headed off for a nice pizza in nearby Suffolk.
You can see the river in this short video I made from this trip...
There is a boat ramp on Unity Road which is a few miles further north. It seems to be used a bit more than the Joyner's Bridge Road ramp and is not quite as inviting as the sandy beach at Joyner's. So there is the possibility of a shuttle paddle assuming that there are no blockages in between these two ramps.
For close overnight stays, I would recommend a hotel in Franklin just off route 58 bypass. That way you have access to local businesses for your shopping and eating needs.
The ramp at Joyners Bridge is nice because there is a concrete ramp for bigger boats and a nice sandy beach for canoes and kayaks. There is plenty of parking.
No fees or permits required... unless you want to fish then you must have a fishing license of course.
From route 460 near Windsor, VA, take 258 south. From route 58 (business or bypass) near Franklin, VA, take 258 north. Take Joyners Bridge Road (a right heading south on 258 or a left heading north on 258). The boat ramp and small sandy beach will be approximately 2 miles after turning and just before the bridge that crosses the Blackwater River.
No special books or maps used, just Yahoo or Google maps.