This water trail runs from Cedar Grove down to the James River along 34 of the Maury's 42 mile length. One of the most beautiful whitewater rivers in Virginia, the Maury has rock walls along many stretches and boulder fields that are rearranged during high water flows. A number of wayside parks along the river offer views and access. The River is also bordered by a number of mills or mill ruins from the 1700s, well-preserved canal works from the 19th century, and one of the oldest surviving camelback bridges in the Shennandoah Valley. Please note that canoeing, kayaking and other activities on rivers can be dangerous, particularly on a whitewater river like the Maury. Do not use any river without adequate preparations, knowledge of local river conditions, and necessary skill levels. Follow all safety precautions.
There are no fees associated with the Maury River Water Trail.
The Maury River was called "a branch of the North River" before the name was changed within the past few decades. It formed a portion of an all-water route from the Atlantic ports of Virginia to Lexington from the late 18th to the late 19th century, primarily carrying passengers, pig iron, and agricultural products Connected to the James River and Kanawha Canal at Glasgow, a series of canals, locks and dams allowed merchant and passenger James River bateaux to travel the shallow, rocky river. The first canal boat reached Lexington in 1860.
The era of the canal ended fairly quickly (around 1880) along the river, as the Richmond and Alleghany Railroad and later Shenandoah Valley Railroad both built rail lines along major portions of the river which offered faster and easier transportation. Numerous artifacts remain from the canal days including several lock and dam ruins. The lock at Ben Salem Wayside between Buena Vista and Interstate 81 on U.S. Route 60 is well preserved in a park setting. At least two dams from the canal era remain and impound water, Moomaw’s Lock and Dam below the US 60 bridge in Buena Vista, and the Lexington Mills Dam at Jordan’s Point in Lexington which formed the end of canal boat navigation. Several other lock and dam ruins, some almost complete dams, are visible along the river from the Chessie Nature Trail. The Gooseneck Dam downstream of Buena Vista is notable for being featured in a photograph by acclaimed 1950s railroad photographer O. Winston Link.
Canoeing, kayaking, tubing, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Public access points for canoeing the river are listed in many of the guide books, but don't enter the Maury without adequate skill, preparation and knowledge of current conditions of the stretch of river you plan to run. Sections of the Maury are suitable for canoeists or kayakers experienced in whitewater (class I-IV), while other sections are floatable in an inner tube. Check the water levels and what they mean for the safety and enjoyment of your activity on the river. During high flow periods, the river can be dangerous.
The Maury River at Goshen Pass is included in the state's "put-n-take" trout program and provides excellent trout fishing. Smallmouth bass and rock bass (redeye bass) also provide some opportunity for anglers. The Maury is excellent for float fishing from Rockbridge Baths downstream to Glasgow. There's a ramp at Buena Vista under old U.S. Route 60 and a new one at Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista. Along the river are parks and historic features, including old mills and ruins described in a publication available at Virginia Canals and Navigations Society Information about the area adjacent to the River on the Chessie trail is available through Rappahannock Area Conservation Council.
Up to and including Class III. Occassionally boaters may encounter Class IV rapids. (Read more about the different levels of River Classifications)
The Rockbridge Regional Tourism Office Outdoor Recreation Guide provides basic information for trip planning, but does not contain detailed information for canoeing or kayaking the river.
Experienced canoeists can consult published whitewater guides, but these may not be up to date. For those venturing on the Maury or white water for the first time, a trip with an outfitter is advised.
The Ben Salem Wayside on Rt. 60 between Lexington and Buena Vista has picnic areas on the river and good birdwatching from the shore.
Also along the river is the Chessie Nature Trail, which follows a route along an old railroad grade between Lexington and Buena Vista, passing several locks and historic sites. This seven mile trail has cliffs, pastures and woodlands which provide good wildlife watching. Other access areas are described in the Rockbridge Outdoors guide available from the Rockbridge Regional Tourism Office (540) 463-3777.
Public River Access Points
1. Goshen Pass (Rt. 39) Many access points to the Maury River off Rt. 39.
2. Rockbridge Baths (Rt. 39) Several good roadside access points, particularly behind the Country Store.
3. Jordan's Point Park (North Main Street, Lexington) Good access to the Maury River, just below the dam.
4. Stuartsburg Road (Rt. 703) Roadside access to the Maury River about three miles east of Lexington.
5. Ben Salem Wayside (Rt. 60) Roadside access to the Maury River with picnic areas, halfway between Lexington and Buena Vista (R-26)
6. Buena Vista (Rt. 60 Bridge) - Access to the Maury River under the bridge, via Rt. 608.
7. Glasgow Landing (Blue Ridge Road - off Rt. 130 in Glasgow) Good launch point just beneath the railroad (R-43)
8. Glen Maury Park, well maintained access along the Maury River in the City of Buena Vista.