New River - Maps & Access

Float Trips

Five dams impede the free-flowing New River in Virginia: Fields Dam, Fries Dam, Byllesby Dam, Buck Dam, and Claytor Dam. But many of these can be portaged, and often provide some good flatwater fishing. Thanks to a new program, Partners in Rivers, portage access around Byllesby and Buck Dams ins now available. Be warned that large volumes of water are frequently released from these dams to generate electricity, so be ready to move ashore if you notice a sudden rise in the river.

Plan on floating one hour per mile under normal conditions, especially if you plan to fish.

NOTE: Approximately half of the access points noted on the map are developed public areas. The remainder are traditionally used sites that can accommodate a canoe or light johnboat and are designated on the map and on the float trips by a letter. Please respect all property by refraining from littering, blocking gates or access roads, and from camping in prohibited areas.

Mouth of Wilson to Bridle CreekMap
Distance: 6 miles

Put in on the west bank of the river near the intersection of Routes 93 & 58. Cartop launch only. A one-mile backwater from Fields Dam, an old woolen mill, immediately greets the boater after launching. This slow water yields good catches of smallmouth bass and muskellunge. Portage the dam on the right side before continuing your journey to Bridle Creek. With the entry of Fox Creek just below the dam, an occasional trophy brown or rainbow trout can be hooked. Easy riffles and scenic countryside can be experienced on this float. Take out on the left bank prior to the Route 601 crossing at Bridle Creek.

Bridle Creek to IndependenceMap
Distance: 10 miles

This is the float for whitewater enthusiasts. Put in at Bridle Creek landing off Route 601 about 1.5 miles south of Bridle Creek community. The river spills over four sets of ledges to create some Class II and III rapids. For those who prefer to bypass such action, Penitentiary Shoals should be portaged on the left and Big Island Falls (near the north Carolina line) can be portaged from the right side. Fast water and big rock outcroppings always spell big smallmouth bass and flathead catfish. Take the opportunity to pull your craft up on a cobble bar or an island and fish with jigs or spinnerbaits around the ample structure. Exit the river on the left side just beyond the Route 21 bridge.

Independence to BaywoodMap
Distance: 12 miles

This is a trip for those in love with flat water and gorgeous scenery. Put in about three miles south of the town of Independence off Rout 21. Be sure you get an early start or you will be doing more paddling than fishing. Short easy riffles and a few sharp ledges characterize all the fast water you will experience. Try casting into the numerous pockets for lively spotted bass action and near the grass beds for rock bass. Takeout is on the right side of the river just under the Route 58 bridge.

Baywood to RiversideMap
Distance: 8.5 miles

Another quiet float for the most part, Baywood can be reached from either Galax or Independence via Route 58. Here, the New River winds around old Indian settlements and tobacco farms. Around two miles above the take out, you will encounter Joyce's Rapids, challenging your boating skills and providing some outstanding smallmouth bass opportunities. Be sure to fish the cool waters of Elk Creek where it joins the river directly above the take out. For those who opt for a longer float, there are camping facilities available in the vicinity of Riverside. Take out on the left near the intersection of Routes 274 and 94.

Riverside to OldtownMap
Distance: 6 miles

A wide cannel, big islands, and grassy backwaters typify this stretch. Be sure to probe around the islands for muskellunge, smallmouth bass, and flathead catfish. Your trip can be cut in half by taking out at a popular spot on the south side of the Route 94 bridge. Check out the local guide service for camping and boating opportunities. The Oldtown take out is on the right bank two miles past the Route 94 bridge.

Oldtown to Fries Dam (A) Map
Distance: 2.5 miles

This is a short trip to take advantage of the power pool above Fries Dam, a 40-foot rock structure that once powered a thriving textile mill. The power pool harbors largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, yellow perch, and an occasional muskellunge. Be sure to look for signs of blue barrels strung across the river to warn boaters of the impending danger from the dam. Portage the dam on the left bank, following a very steep foot trail up to a public wayside off Route 94.

Fries to Byllesby Reservoir Map
Distance: 7 miles

Launch at the VDGIF boat landing on river left off Rt. 94 at Riverside Park in the town of Fries. A broad river channel and loads of ledges and rock structure greet the boater. If you can pick your way up to Fries Dam one-half mile upstream, sharp rock ledges and deep currents produce trophy smallmouth bass and cannel catfish all the way to the slow waters of Byllesby Dam just below the confluence of Chestnut Creek. These waters can be jigged or live bait fished for big flatheads and cannel catfish, as well as walleye and smallmouth bass. Take out about one mile above Byllesby Dam at a ramp at the end of Route 739 near Riverhill.

Fowler's Ferry (B)Map
Distance: 2.5 miles

This is a short piece of water sandwiched in between Buck and Byllesby dams. Put in off Route 635 on right side of river at an informal cartop launch. Beautiful bluffs, scattered islands, and rock ledges characterize this area. Nice stringers of channel catfish can be taken near the base of Byllesby Dam, while smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and walleye also abound throughout the entire reach. Plan to paddle back to Fowler's Ferry or prepare for a long left bank portage around Buck Dam.

Fowler's Ferry (B) to AustinvilleMap
Distance: 7.5 miles

After working your way around Buck Dam, prepare for a scenic float through a bit of history. The area around Ivanhoe and Austinville were extensively mined for lead into the 1800s. Today, the landscape is dotted with cabbage farms, small towns, and towering cliffs. For the boater, easy water lies ahead along with terrific fishing. Walleye make their way all the way to the foot of Buck Dam and the last four state record walleye (all over 14 lbs.!) were caught in the stretch. The deep pools of this reach yield trophy catfish and muskellunge as well. Trout are caught occasionally near the mouth of Cripple Creek, a premier trout stream that enters the river here. Take out is a ramp near the Rout 636 bridge at Austinville.

Austinville to Jackson Ferry (C)Map
Distance: 3.5 miles

This is a short but scenic float. Put in river right off Route 636 at a new, state-of-the-art boat ramp. New River Trail State Park hugs the river here. A deep, slow pool of water under the old steel bridge is sure to harbor lunker muskellunge and channel catfish. Take out at New River Trail State Park, Foster Falls Village either above Foster Falls, a Class III-IV rapid, or below it. Be sure to visit the historical Shot Tower State Park before leaving the vicinity of Jackson Ferry.

Jackson Ferry (C) to AllisoniaMap
Distance: 13.5 miles

For those with a love of whitewater, you can put in above Foster Falls, a Class III-IV rapid, at one of the two new ramps constructed in New River Trail State Park, Foster Falls Village. For the more faint of heart, put in about 300 yards downstream below Foster Falls at the second ramp in the park. The Foster Falls area contains numerous rock gardens and sharp ledges - home to big smallmouth and spotted bass. Downstream, beach your canoe on one of the many islands and fish the deep runs for walleye, white bass, and catfish. Closer to Allisonia, the river begins to slow as you enter the deep waters of Claytor Lake. Take advantage of the cool water being supplied by Big Reed Island Creek, just above the landing. A nice, 10-car parking area and concrete ramp is available to Allisonia off Route 693 for those who prefer to do a little outboard motoring.

Claytor LakeMap
21 miles in length

Claytor Lake is a 4,500-acre hydroelectric facility built in 1939 by Appalachian Power Company. Two major boat landings, one owned by VDGIF and one by Claytor Lake State Park are located close to Claytor Dam on the north side of the lake. Three other private ramps also give access to Claytor Lake. The 472-arce Claytor Lake State Park has four campgrounds, cottages, a marina, and hiking trails. Claytor Lake has an array of game fish species to satisfy the needs of any freshwater angler. Striped bass, hybrid stripers, white bass, walleye, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch, channel catfish, and a variety of sunfish lurk below the rocky cliffs of the lake. Walleye run up the river as early as February and white bass make their annual spawning runs in April and May. Boats with outboard motors are recommended to navigate the water of the lake.

Claytor Dam to Peppers Ferry (D)Map
Distance: 11 miles

Launch on the east bank off Route 605 after passing under I-81. Maneuver up to Claytor Dam to take advantage of some great smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and flathead catfish angling. Muskellunge are stocked from Claytor Dam to the West Virginia line. Be sure to fish the mouth of Little River as it enters New River directly below the dam. Water conditions from this landing to the West Virginia line can change rapidly (2-3 foot rise in a short period of time) when power is being generated at the dam. Be sure not to camp too close to the shore or get caught wading in mid-river when APCO is releasing water. This is a relatively mild float with no major rapids and modest scenery. Exit the river on the left just above the Route 114 bridge at Peppers Ferry. Or, you can cut the trip in half by taking out or launching at a ramp near the Dedmon Sports Complex of Radford University.

Peppers Ferry (D) to WhitethorneMap
Distance: 8.5 miles

Informal put in on river left at the Route 114 bridge. The river slowly winds around tall cliffs, residential development, and the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. Scattered ledges and easy riffles characterize much of this float. Boaters beware of a Class II drop known as Arsenal Rapids. The rapid should be scouted and portage on the right bank. Excellent smallmouth bass fishing can be found from the falls to Whitethorne, along with the usual river fish assemblage, including a few largemouth bass, black bass, black crappie, and channel catfish that have made their way out of Claytor Lake. Take out is at Whitethorne, a developed VDGIF boat landing off Route 623 on the right side of the river.

Whitethorne to Big Falls (E)Map
Distance: 7 miles

Put in at the end of Route 623 at Whitethorne. This section is punctuated by several small ledges and riffles. Smallmouth action in this reach is nothing short of fabulous! It is not uncommon to hook several fish in the 2-4 lb class while using hell-grammites, jigs, or crayfish imitations. This is also one of the best areas on the lower New River to tangle with trophy muskellunge. As soon as the river leaves Montgomery County and flows into Giles County (approximately 5 miles), it roars over a two-foot ledge known as Big Falls. Take out along Route 625 above or below the falls. This is a Class II-III run depending on water conditions. It is also a popular tubing spot for students from VA Tech and Radford University, so expect a lot of activity in the river during the warm months.

Big Falls (E) and Eggleston (F)Map
Distance: 2.5 miles

This beautiful reach is typified by towering cliffs, deep pools, and a few challenging riffles. One difficult rock ledge is located on the right side of an island one mile above the Eggleston bridge. Anglers can expect to catch big muskellunge in this section. Some of the largest catches of this fish have come from the area between Whitethorne and Eggleston. Be sure to cast large plugs or use adult chubs to increase your chances of landing a trophy musky. Smallmouth bass fishing is outstanding as well. Take out on left bank just before the Eggleston bridge (Rout 730) along Rt. 622.

Eggleston (F) to Pembroke (G)Map
Distance: 6 miles

This is a short but beautiful float. Towering palisades line the water's edge as the boater drifts slowly through the bends in the river. Short riffle areas are interspersed through this reach, inviting the angler to beach his craft and try flycasting a wooly bugger in the swirling pockets and runs. Take out off Route 623, on the right side above the bridge.

Pembroke (G) to Ripplemead (H)Map
Distance: 2 miles

The outstanding scenery continues through this short piece of the river. Walker Creek, a notable tributary, enters the river about halfway through the trip. Several small islands dot the channel, offering a good opportunity to stretch and fish for rock bass and smallmouth bass in and around the channels. Fishing below the many small ledges can be productive as well. Take out off Route 636 on left bank, just under the Route 460 bridge.

Ripplemead (H) to Bluff City (I)Map
Distance: 7.5 miles

Be on your toes for some whitewater action after entering the river at Ripplemead. A Class II rapid awaits approximately one mile form the put in, followed by several more ledges that produce great canoeing fun. A long series of Class II riffles and ledges are located a mile below the confluence of Big Stony Creek. Clendennin Shoals, located near the tow of Pearisburg, is the strongest rapid in the float and provides some excellent opportunities to land a big smallmouth bass or monster flathead catfish. Bragging size muskellunge can also be caught in the deep holes. Take out on the left side of the river below the Route 460 bridge near Bluff City.

Bluff City (I) to Rich CreekMap
Distance: 5.5 miles

Flat water dominates this run. Several small ledges and rock gardens can be handled easily, but beware of Narrows Falls, located below the town of Narrows. This is a Class III rapid that should be scouted thoroughly before attempting to run it. Narrows Falls drops around 7 feet in 50 feet of river. An old, crumbled dam at the end of the run forms several hydraulic that can be lethal to unsuspecting boaters. Fish the confluence of Wolf Creek at Narrows for smallmouth bass, rock bass, muskellunge, and catfish. Take out at the VDGIF landing the right bank just below Narrows Falls. A new informal take out is at the mouth of Wolf Creek, just above the falls.

Rich Creek to Glen LynMap
Distance: 5 miles

This is a gentle float, interrupted by a few short riffles and several large islands. The VDGIF Glen Lyn landing is located at a beautiful small park on the right-hand side, just above the Route 460 bridge. Take the kids on this short float and introduce them to the joys of float fishing. Catches of smallmouth bass, redbreast sunfish, and rock bass can be expected in this reach of the river. Around seven miles of the river flow through Virginia before leaving the state at this point, but finding a take out can be difficult. Paddling the slow waters of Bluestone Lake when it is at full pond in not desirable either, so many boaters consider Glen Lyn to be the final stop on the scenic New River in Virginia.

Public Boating Access at New River

County/City Access Area Barrier Free Type Ramps Latitude Longitude Map
Carroll Byllesby Pool Yes Concrete Ramp 1 36° 46' 25" N
80° 56' 12" W
Directions: From the Town of Riverhill, N on Rt 739 to the River
Carroll Ivanhoe No Shoreline Access 0 36° 49' 20" N
80° 56' 58" W
Directions: From Rt. 94 (S. of Ivanhoe), turn East on Rt. 658, follow under New River Trail, turn left into site.
Giles Glen Lyn No Concrete Ramp 1 37° 22' 19" N
80° 51' 30" W
Directions: Town of Glen Lyn on Rt 460
Giles Narrows Yes Concrete Ramp, Shallow Water 0 37° 20' 12" N
80° 48' 38" W
Directions: North of Narrows on Rt 649
Giles Rich Creek No Concrete Ramp 1 37° 22' 6" N
80° 49' 10" W
Directions: East of Rich Creek (.5) on Rt 460
Giles Snidow Park Landing Yes Concrete Ramp 1 37° 18' 53" N
80° 38' 34" W
Directions: In the Town of Pembroke take Snidow Road (Rt 623) south to bridge, L into Sindow Park
Grayson Baywood No Concrete Ramp, Shallow Water 0 36° 36' 50" N
81° 2' 45" W
Directions: From Independent, Rt 58 East (6)
Grayson Bridle Creek No Concrete Ramp 1 36° 35' 45" N
81° 14' 32" W
Directions: From Independence, Rt 58 West (1.8); L on Rt 711 (3.9)
Grayson Independence No Unknown 0 36° 34' 20" N
81° 9' 9" W
Directions: From Independence, Rt 21 South to Rt 221 (3.2); L on Rt 700 (.5)
Grayson Mouth of Wilson No Unknown 0 36° 35' 7" N
81° 18' 51" W
Directions: East of Mouth of Wilson; Intersection Rt 58 & 93
Grayson Oldtown No Unknown 0 36° 40' 53" N
80° 58' 25" W
Directions: Rt 58 West; R on Rt 640 (Old Town Rd) (1); R on Rt 634 (1.3); L on Rt 641 (1.7)
Grayson Riverside No Unknown 0 36° 40' 21" N
81° 1' 20" W
Directions: Intersection of Rt 94 & Rt 274, South of Fries
Montgomery Claytor Dam No Concrete Ramp 1 37° 5' 19" N
80° 34' 44" W
Directions: Rt. 232-605 South (2) of Radford
Montgomery Whitethorne No Concrete Ramp 1 37° 11' 54" N
80° 33' 55" W
Directions: From Rt 460, Rt. 685 West (6.8); R on Rt 652 (.2); L on Rt 623 (1)
Pulaski Peppers Ferry Yes Unknown 1 37° 9' 37" N
80° 33' 14" W
Directions: From Route 11 turn on Route 114 (Peppers Ferry Blvd.) 2.1 miles to access on the right
Wythe Austinville Yes Concrete Ramp 1 36° 51' 14" N
80° 55' 6" W
Directions: From Austinville S. on Rt 69 to the River

Maps and driving directions may not work for all locations. Map information provided through Google is intended for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic conditions, or other events may differ from the map results.