Rivanna River - Crofton to Columbia

by  safaco

A self-supported trip created by safaco

Trip Overview

Distance: About 22.5 miles

Total travel time: 6.5 hours

River level: It's been a dry spring and the river is quite low, but it was fine for 99% of the trip. The last few miles before Columbia had some low sandy patches where I dragged a bit, but it was totally navigable. Current was slow but steady and I was able to maintain a moderate-effort paddling speed over 3mph.

Difficulty: To reiterate, the river volume was very low, about a third of what it was this time the year before. That being said, this was a pretty easy float. The stretch from Crofton to Palmyra was very easy, few riffles but nothing serious. The first 6-7 miles after Palmyra launch were similar. The last ~6 miles had a few Class II rapids that required a bit of care to approach.

Rapids: The final ~6 miles had three significant drops, though at least two of them were still pretty straightforward. The first was basically southeast of Carysbrook if you're looking at a map. This one had a great rock river right where I was able to pull aside and scout first. It ended up being a single big drop that was pretty easy once I found the right line. The second was about 4 miles later and was a little more complicated; I picked a bad line and ended up just sort of dragging myself over the rocks. The third one was right after I passed under the Route 6 bridge. This one was like the first: a single big drop, but easy to run after I stood up and identified a good line.

Wildlife: Good wildlife! Lots of turtles, ducks, geese, and smallmouth bass. Also saw multiple bald eagles, ospreys, turkeys, otters, gar, catfish, northern watersnakes. Even had an American kestrel buzz me a few times trying to scare me off her nest. Some deer on the banks and one stag crossed the river in front of me in the dawn mist which was a cool sight. Heard but did not see coyotes and an owl overnight.

Gear Notes

16' Royalex Mad River Explorer


River level: 2.7 feet (255 cf/s) at Palmyra gauge

Water was very clear and a comfortable temperature

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 5/26/2023-5/27/2023
  • Sport/Activity: Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location