James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 3.84'
Flow: 1810 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 1:36am
Low Tide: 8:36am

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Roadtrip: Soak up Summer at the Falls of the Nottoway

Andy Thompson

July 2, 2018 12:21pm

Back in 2013-2014 I traveled all over Virginia researching and writing a hiking guidebook. You’ve probably seen those “Falcon Guides” in book stores or outdoor stores, like REI, that carry books. They have the distinctive yellow covers. Well, mine was Falcon’s Hiking Waterfalls in Virginia. I featured 48 hikes all over the state, though as you would imagine, most are in Virginia’s mountainous parts.

They’re not all in the mountains, however, and, there’s really no better excuse for a summer road trip than a waterfall/swimming hole destination. So, I thought it would be fun to pick a few hikes out of the book and highlight one a week over the summer. (If you want to see them all, click here.)

First up, the Falls of the Nottoway

The Falls of the Nottoway was one of the most surprising entries in my book. It sits in the middle of nowhere — geologically speaking — yet it boasts a pleasing series of slides offering large pools at the bottom perfect for swimming. These are no sheer, Last of the Mohicans-style falls, but then even in the mountains, Virginia doesn’t have many of those. This place is a perfect summer waterfall trip because the swimming holes are numerous and quite large. You’re not likely to have it to yourself if it’s a warm day, but the pools are big enough that plenty of people can swim here without bothering each other.

Getting there: I’ll skip the road directions because you can easily type this place into Google Maps and find your way there. But once you arrive and park in the gravel lot just after you’ve crossed over the Nottoway River, 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 Route 49 bridge first, then enter the woods for just a few hundred feet before you see the falls on your left.

Here’s an overhead shot of the rock outcrop that creates the falls taken by William and Mary University.

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?