by Bob Maxey
My nephew Jon and I paddled this river at a level of 2.3 Ft on the Strasburg gauge. There was sufficient water with little scraping over rocks in the rapids. This is a beautiful stretch of river that is free of mobile homes until one nears Front Royal. We chased a Bald Eagle down the river, saw numerous herons and kingfishers and saw a carp nearly 2.5 feet long. The rapids are very mild, so this would be a good river to paddle in the Winter with no concern about getting wet.
The lone danger is a dam about a mile below the junction with Cedar Creek. This is a mandatory portage on the left side of the river, not on the right side per Roger Corbett. There is a large sign on river left alerting paddlers to the danger of the dam. The backwash at the base of the dam is quite impressive, and one can easily see how a drowning could occur. This river is similar to other Randy Carter-type rivers that I paddled when I was first getting familiar with paddling a canoe on whitewater. If other paddlers are interested in streams of this type, let me know. There are many within a 3-hour drive of Washington.