Outdoor Adventures: Kayaking and Boating in Lynchburg

kayaking and boating in Lynchburg outdoors

Lynchburg, Virginia, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the banks of the James River, offers a plethora of outdoor adventures. Whether you’re interested in kayaking, boating, hiking, or simply enjoying the scenic views, Lynchburg has something for everyone. This guide will take you through some of the best spots for outdoor activities in and around Lynchburg, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

Key Takeaways

  • Lynchburg offers a variety of paddle experiences, including guided tours and rentals for kayaks and canoes.
  • The James River is a central feature for water activities, offering scenic views, wildlife sightings, and multiple rental options.
  • Ivy Creek Park and Claytor Lake State Park provide additional opportunities for boating, picnicking, and trail exploration.
  • Guided paddle tours offer unique experiences, including wildlife sightings and scenic routes through less urbanized areas.
  • Lynchburg is a great weekend getaway destination with numerous local attractions, dining options, and accommodations.

Paddle Downtown Experience

Enjoy the James River in Lynchburg’s urban setting with a Paddle Downtown Experience. Take an hour-long canoe or kayak adventure upstream for a view of downtown Lynchburg and an opportunity to check out a historic dam and experience local wildlife. There’s a sandy beach nearby that offers great swimming and fishing. Bring a picnic lunch for a nice relaxing break on the river.

James River Adventures

kayaking and boating on James River in Lynchburg

Rental Options

Explore the James River by kayak or canoe! Just across the river from Downtown, James River Adventures offers canoe and kayak rentals to people of all skill levels. Their goal is to provide an opportunity to learn more about nature, and to experience the river’s history, health, and future while having fun and enjoying its beauty.

Scenic Views

James River Adventures offers opportunities for exploring and enjoying the scenic James by canoe, kayak, or historic batteau! Anchored at Riveredge Park in Madison Heights, JRA offers river trip options to people of all skill levels. Spend a few hours on the James and soak in the picturesque landscapes that surround you.

Wildlife Sightings

While paddling through the James River, you might encounter a variety of wildlife. From majestic birds to playful river otters, the river is teeming with life. Keep your eyes peeled for these amazing creatures as you navigate the waters.

Ivy Creek Park

Canoe and Kayak Rentals

Enjoy the serenity of Ivy Creek Park’s Clemmons Lake. Whether you venture out on the water in a canoe or kayak, fish from the pier, or enjoy a picnic lunch on the shore, you’re sure to enjoy the day! Bring a group for the fun of it. Rentals are available to make your adventure hassle-free.

Picnic and Play Areas

The park offers several picnic spots perfect for a family outing or a quiet lunch by the lake. The play areas are great for kids to burn off some energy while you relax and take in the beautiful surroundings.

Trail Exploration

Explore the multi-use trails that wind through Ivy Creek Park. These trails are designed with green principles, featuring aggregate paving to reduce stormwater runoff and landscaping with native plants. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the local wildlife and scenic views.

Guided Paddle Tours

For those looking for longer enjoyment of the river, sign up for a 3 ½ – 4 hour Guided Paddle Tour. Starting at Riveredge Park, paddlers will quickly leave Lynchburg’s urban backdrop and experience the natural, wilder side of the James River passing by Percival’s Island, under 5 bridges and through the beautiful bottom land of Amherst and Campbell Counties. This trip offers plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife including otters, beavers, eagles, osprey, deer, and fish.

Prior to any fun trips on the James, customers will be given paddling instructions and safety guidelines by our American Canoe Association and Wilderness First Aid trained staff. Our expert staff join you for your trip and share natural and historic landmarks and wildlife during your trip. You might spot otters, beavers, eagles, osprey, deer, and various fish species.

James River Adventures
(434) 944-2137
150 Rocky Hill Road
Madison Heights, VA 24572

Open for Guided Trips: June 2024 – September 1, 2024

Our goal is to provide an opportunity to experience the James, learn more about its history, health, and future while having fun and enjoying its beauty.

Book Your Guided Adventure

Riveredge Park Access

Boat Launch Points

Riveredge Park is a prime spot for launching your kayaks, canoes, and even bateaux. The park is well-known for its role in the James River Batteau Festival, where enthusiasts gather to launch their boats and celebrate the river’s history.

Fishing Opportunities

For those who love fishing, Riveredge Park offers ample opportunities. The park’s location along the James River makes it an ideal spot for catching a variety of fish. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, you’ll find the perfect spot to cast your line.

Nearby Attractions

Riveredge Park is surrounded by several attractions that make it a great day-trip destination. You can visit the Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skate Park, Riverfront Park, and Riverside Park, all within a short distance. These parks offer a range of activities from skateboarding to picnicking, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Riveredge Park is not just a launch point; it’s a gateway to a day full of adventure and relaxation along the James River.

Claytor Lake State Park

Boating and Marina Services

Claytor Lake State Park is ideal for swimming, camping, hiking, and picnicking. The park features sport fishing, boating, and a full-service marina with docking slips. Visitors can also rent bikes, enjoy the fishing pier, and let their kids play on the playgrounds.

Camping and Hiking

For those who love the great outdoors, Claytor Lake offers a variety of camping options, from tent sites to cabins. The park’s trails are perfect for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the area.

Fishing and Picnicking

Claytor Lake is known for its sport fishing opportunities. The park has several picnic shelters where families can enjoy a meal together. Don’t forget to bring your fishing gear and enjoy a relaxing day by the water.

Whether you’re looking to spend a day on the water or a weekend in nature, Claytor Lake State Park has something for everyone.

Cascade Falls Adventure

Hiking to the Falls

Embark on a scenic hike to Cascade Falls, where you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing sounds of nature. The trail is well-marked and suitable for all skill levels, making it a perfect outing for families and solo adventurers alike. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning views along the way.

Swimming Spots

After your hike, cool off in one of the designated swimming spots near the falls. The crystal-clear water is incredibly refreshing, especially on a hot day. Remember to pack a swimsuit and a towel so you can fully enjoy this natural oasis.

What to Bring

To make the most of your Cascade Falls adventure, here are a few essentials to pack:

  • Comfortable hiking shoes
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Camera or smartphone for photos
  • Snacks and water
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent

A visit to Cascade Falls offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Panther Falls Excursion

Guided Tour Details

Panther Falls is a scenic waterfall and swimming hole on the Pedlar River, located approximately an hour from Lynchburg. The hike to the falls is about 0.4 miles, with options for both lower and higher trails. Adventurous visitors can jump from the rock ledges. Guided tours offer a safe and informative way to explore this beautiful area.

Wildlife and Scenery

During your excursion, you might encounter various wildlife, including birds, deer, and small mammals. The lush greenery and the sound of the waterfall create a serene environment perfect for nature lovers. Keep an eye out for unique plant species that thrive in this area.

Tour Duration

The guided tour typically lasts around 2-3 hours, giving you ample time to enjoy the falls and the surrounding nature. Make sure to bring water, snacks, and a camera to capture the stunning views.

Panther Falls is a must-visit for families: fun activities for kids and parents. Explore hands-on learning, guided tours, and family-friendly attractions in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Enjoying the James River

The James River offers a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re into biking, walking, canoeing, or kayaking, there’s something for everyone to enjoy along this scenic river.

Biking and Walking Trails

One of the best ways to explore the James River is by taking advantage of its extensive network of biking and walking trails. These trails range from urban pathways to more rugged, natural routes, allowing you to explore the best trails and hikes in Lynchburg. The diverse terrain ensures that there’s a trail suitable for every skill level.

Canoeing and Kayaking

For those who prefer water activities, the James River is perfect for canoeing and kayaking. James River Adventures offers rentals and guided tours, making it easy for both beginners and experienced paddlers to enjoy the river. Experience the river’s history, health, and future while having fun and enjoying its beauty.

Local Flora and Fauna

The James River is home to a wide variety of wildlife and plant species. As you paddle or hike along the river, keep an eye out for otters, beavers, eagles, and osprey. The river’s ecosystem is rich and diverse, providing ample opportunities for wildlife sightings and nature photography.

The James River is a natural treasure that offers a unique blend of urban and wild experiences. Whether you’re on the water or on the trails, you’ll find plenty of ways to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

Weekend Getaway in Lynchburg

Local Attractions

Lynchburg, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, offers a rich tapestry of history and natural beauty. Explore the vibrant downtown area where urban life meets serene trails and babbling creeks. Don’t miss the historic sites and museums that tell the story of this charming city.

Dining Options

From cozy cafes to fine dining, Lynchburg has a variety of culinary delights to offer. Enjoy local flavors and international cuisines in the heart of the city. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

Accommodation Choices

Lynchburg provides a range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Choose from luxurious hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, or convenient vacation rentals. Rest and recharge in comfort after a day of exploring all that Lynchburg has to offer.

Make the most of your weekend getaway by immersing yourself in the local culture and natural beauty of Lynchburg. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to come back again and again.

Water Activities Near Lynchburg

Lynchburg, VA offers an array of water activities, perfect for creating memorable summer experiences. From serene lakes to thrilling water parks, there’s something for everyone. Discover some of the best spots to cool off and enjoy the water this summer.


Lynchburg offers a delightful mix of urban and natural experiences, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re paddling through the historic James River, exploring the serene Ivy Creek Park, or enjoying a guided tour, there’s something for everyone. The city’s proximity to scenic trails, parks, and water activities ensures that every adventure is just a short trip away. So pack your gear, bring your friends and family, and immerse yourself in the outdoor adventures that Lynchburg has to offer. Happy exploring!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Paddle Downtown Experience?

The Paddle Downtown Experience is an hour-long canoe or kayak adventure upstream on the James River, offering views of downtown Lynchburg, a historic dam, and opportunities to observe local wildlife.

Where can I rent kayaks and canoes in Lynchburg?

You can rent kayaks and canoes at various locations including James River Adventures and Ivy Creek Park. Rentals are typically available on weekends from May to September.

Are there picnic spots along the James River?

Yes, there are several picnic spots along the James River, including sandy beaches that are great for swimming and fishing.

What types of wildlife can I expect to see on a guided paddle tour?

On a guided paddle tour, you might see otters, beavers, eagles, osprey, deer, and various fish species.

What activities are available at Claytor Lake State Park?

Claytor Lake State Park offers activities such as boating, swimming, camping, hiking, picnicking, sport fishing, and bike rentals. It also features a full-service marina and playgrounds.

How long is the hike to Cascade Falls?

The hike to Cascade Falls is approximately 4 miles roundtrip and ends with a beautiful waterfall where you can enjoy a refreshing swim.

What are some family-friendly water activities near Lynchburg?

Family-friendly water activities near Lynchburg include visiting local lakes and rivers, water parks, and picnic spots. Popular destinations include Ivy Creek Park and Claytor Lake State Park.

How do I book a guided paddle tour on the James River?

You can book a guided paddle tour on the James River through local companies like James River Adventures. Tours typically start at Riveredge Park and offer a scenic and wildlife-rich experience.

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