Rollicking Rivers of the Virginias

History and High Water Meet on the Shenandoah and the Cheat

Rolling past the most beautiful landscapes in Virginia at a majestic, measured pace, the Shenandoah River gives paddlers a chance to experience for themselves one of American folklore's legendary waterways. Just across the Pennsylvania state line in West Virginia, the lesser-known Cheat River makes up for what it lacks in historical stature with enough serious whitewater to satisfy any glutton for punishment. Here GORP, in partnership with the Menasha Ridge Press, brings together two great American rivers—the stately Virginian and its uncouth West Virginian cousin—for almost any paddling mood.


The Shenandoah River is legendary throughout the world. In song, story, and canoeist lore it is part of the vocabulary of the English-speaking world. The valley through which it flows is synonymous with agricultural richness, and the very name conjures images of pastoral serenity and farm living. For the paddler the Shenandoah offers little in the way of whitewater but provides a beautiful river experience as it runs through a combination of scenic farmland and steep mountain forest, skirting Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest and Jefferson National Forest. The section of the South Fork from Bixler Bridge to Karo Landing has probably been paddled by more beginning paddlers, as well as veterans, than any other stream. Boy Scouts have baptized their paddles in the South Fork for generations, and outing groups of all varieties continue to do so in droves. For any Virginia paddler, a trip down the South Fork of the Shenandoah is still an essential part of the Old Dominion experience.

© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 20 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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