The Upper Chickahominy River has been one of our favorite paddles for the last couple of years. Significant parts of the trip are quite wild and depending on the water level you will see differing paths through the initial swampy area. At the right times of the year flowers are on the bank or lily pads dominate the water. We always see lots of turtles and there are many herons and osprey along the way.
The early part of the trip is in shallow flowing water that only rarely gets visited by power boats and fisherman. Once you reach the wider parts of the Chickahominy Lake there will be bass boats but not much else to disturb the wildlife. There are abundant side creeks to visit; so much so that the first time we went we were concerned about getting lost but eventually we found our way through.
We put in at a bridge where SR155 crosses the Chick about a mile south of Providence Forge. The river splits there. Put in at the south most bridge where there is room for two or three cars to park on dirt. You can go upstream from the put in and explore some lakes and small streams for a mile or more; eventually there are too many trees over the stream so as to make the effort too great.
This day we went downstream after a rain and the flow through the swamp area was significant; so much so that my companion, in trying to duck down under a log got turned sideways and flipped in from the water flow. No matter, the water isnt deep and you are not far from shore so the easiest course was to pull to the side and dump out the water. It was a warm enough day that the cool dunking was an enjoyable experience.
I normally check the gauge height at the USGS website before going: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/
If the level is above 4 feet then it will be a good flow and easy paddle. It was 6 feet that day following a good rain so things were moving very well.
After going about an hour we pulled into a side creek with a large osprey getting ready for the years brood by rebuilding a huge nest. He didnt seem to mind as we watched and ate our sandwiches. We enjoyed the quiet scenery of the late spring as we paddled through the rest of the upper lake and saw probably 12 more occupied big osprey nests and then got rewarded at the appropriately named Eagles Landing with a bald Eagle sighting just as we took out. Weve also seen deer, beaver, and too many turtles to count.
Just dirt parking at the bridge. Providence Forge has shops, gas, and places to stay.
Not at the launch.
Take out at Eagles Landing Boat Launch - $5 ramp fee for kayaks and $4 parking fee if you leave a car there. Look for the sign to Eagles Landing on Rt. 60 about 5 miles out of Providence Forge. From 60 turn south crossing the railroad tracks then bearing left into the neighborhood about 1/2 mile to the launch
Take Interstate 64 to the exit to Providence Forge, SR155. Continue south on SR155 for about a mile to the second bridge crossing the upper Chick.