On Memorial Day 2016 WSC members Bob & Pat Hughes and Bruce Ballentine scouted the recently opened Waynesboro Water Trail with WSC Boating Group Leaders Judy & Jerry Rendich. Here is Jerry Rendich's report:
The Waynesboro Water Trail is a short (four mile) stretch of the South River. It winds right through the city of Waynesboro, Va., but it is quiet and scenic for the most part–an exception being where it passes by some unattractive industrial facilities with noticeable trash in the river.
The small rapids are not difficult–mostly class 1-1+ and a few class 2. The river is over-optimistically rated "best" with a water level of 2.75 ft. The day we paddled it was a bit over 3 ft; we were scraping bottom in many shallow areas, however. If the water had been much below that, paddling would have been difficult. Take their evaluation with a large grain of salt.
The attractive brochure does caution that there is a portage at an old dam about a mile after launching in Ridgeview Park. What it doesn't tell you is that this involves a fairly strenuous uphill haul with a 100-yard drag to the put-in located below yet another dam with a rather tricky entry. On our visit there was a second, temporary, portage a bit further due to bridge construction.
Lastly, and most important, there was a nasty "strainer" in the form of a fallen tree with branches extending down to the river bed about 100 yards before the trail's takeout at Basic Park. There was considerable current buildup along the bank and, if anyone were to flip and go underwater, it could have been fatal. This dangerous obstruction needs to be removed.
We cannot recommend this paddle to our club member because of the difficult portage and the dangerous strainer.