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James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 6.26'
Flow: 9270 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 6:48am
Low Tide: 1:36am

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Posted In: Hiking, Paddling

Roadtrip! Rock slides, swimming holes await just an hour from RVA

Andy Thompson

July 29, 2014 12:48pm

After a month-long hiatus, the “Summer Roadtrip Series” continues today with a waterfall destination Central Virginians can reach in an hour (or less) but most I’ve talked to haven’t heard of. There are only so many waterfalls in the middle of the Old Dominion, far from the mountains where cataracts are common. Can you guess the one I’m talking about? It’s not your picture-postcard sheer falls. But it does have a couple of perfect natural rock slides with large swimming holes at the bottom and the hike to it is only about 300 yards.

The Falls of the Nottoway make a great summer day trip for Central Virginians.

The Falls of the Nottoway make a great summer day trip for Central Virginians.

If you guessed the Falls of the Nottoway, you are correct! The falls are a perfect summer getaway, especially if you have kids who love swimming. They will love this place. And not only are the slides and swimming holes fun and safe (assuming it hasn’t just rained a ton), but there’s plenty of rock space for bringing a picnic and spending some time. Just keep in mind that unless you go earlier in the morning, you aren’t likely to have the place to yourself. Even in the middle of nowhere, it’s a popular place.

Getting to the trailhead: From US 360 in Richmond, drive south for about 54 miles (depending on where, exactly, you start in Richmond) to the intersection with SR 49. Get on SR 49 going south and drive 15.5 miles to where it crosses the Nottoway River. Look right, upstream, and you’ll see a dam and the Nottoway Falls Reservoir. Look left, downstream, and you’ll see the top of the falls. Drive 0.1 miles past the bridge and turn right at a gravel road. You’ll see signs for a public boat ramp. Drive a hundred yards or so and stay right at the fork in the gravel road. Park in that big, open gravel lot.

Getting to the falls: When you park in the gravel lot, the service road is off to the right. Follow it for just a few feet and look for the narrower trail that’s been created by decades of people thronging the falls. You’ll pass under the bridge first, then enter the woods for just a few hundred feet before you see the falls on your left.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?