Our group of 8 kayakers based in Daleville, VA to paddle 3 sections of the Upper James River Water Trail.
Day 1 was Eagle Rock to Horseshoe Bend, a trip of about 6 hours including a lunch stop. Plenty of Class 1s and a couple of easy Class 2s. Put-ins and take-outs are clearly marked and VERY easily accessible by state route 43 (Eagle Rock is on US Route 220).
Day 2 was Horseshoe Bend to Buchanan, about. 4 hour paddle with a lunch stop. One moderately tricky Class 2 at Ritchie's Falls, the rest easy riffles. Buchanan's public boat ramp is next to Twin River Outfitters, which has a nice shop and does a good variety of trips - great folks!!
We plan to make a return visit to take on the stretch between Buchanan and Alpine.
This was a beautiful, quiet, and very scenic paddle trip. Just make sure you have enough water - the Buchanan gauge should be over 3.5 feet or you are going to do some walking.
Boat ramps and parking are good at all access points that we used. Restaurants in Buchanan, plenty of hotels in Daleville and the general Roanoke area.
No fees, but you will need a license if you want to fish.
I-81 to Buchanan, then State Route 43. Or, I-81 to Daleville, the north on US Route 220 to Eagle Rock boat launch