Eastern Branch Elizabeth River Trail

Eastern Branch Elizabeth River Water Trail

The Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River flows from Virginia Beach through Norfolk before joining the main river and the Chesapeake Bay. This historic area combines natural wetlands and naval shipyards. The scenic Eastern Branch provides a glimpse of the environment as Captain John Smith would have seen it, with the river's forested shorelines and wetland areas. In the spring of 1608, Smith explored the Elizabeth River, finding little evidence of human inhabitants. Once home to the Chesapeake Group, archaeological resources are most likely lost due to the industrial development in the area.

Today, canoeists can paddle a short portion of the upper river by launching from Carolanne Farm Neighborhood Park, and following a mapped trail route.

Enter Your Location


The launch site is open dawn to dusk.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


No fees are charged for use of the launch site.


In addition to nature viewing along the canoe trail, there is a short nature trail adjacent to the canoe launch.

River Classification

Class I. (Read more about the different levels of River Classifications)

Water Trail Map & Guide

An interpretive booklet guide is available for a short upper stretch of the water trail. Copies are available from Virginia Beach Department of Planning, or from the Central or Kempsville Area Libraries.


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Main image: Eastern Branch Elizabeth River Trail
Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail