The Shenandoah River is one of the few rivers that flow from south to north and the North Fork, in Shenandoah County, is ideal to float by canoe. Clear water, pleasant scenery, abundant wildlife, and mild whitewater make the North Fork a paddler’s dream. However, low flows during the summer months often require canoeists to walk their boats through shallow areas. The scenery is excellent for the entirety of the river’s course, including great views of Massanutten Mountain. The primary navigational hazards on the river are five dams and several low water bridges. Three dams are located between Edinburg and the Rt. 758 bridge east of Woodstock; and two small dams are located between Strasburg and Riverton.
PLEASE NOTE: Most of the land adjacent to the North Fork of the Shenandoah River is privately-owned. You may enter and exit the river ONLY at public access sites. Following is a list of public river access locations by town:
- Lake Laura Beach & Boating Center- Located at Bryce Resort, Lake Laura offers canoes, paddleboards, and paddleboats. For a small fee you can enjoy the entire summer day lounging on the grassy beach, or play and swim in the water.
- Meems Bottom Covered Bridge- Access is on the east bank under the Rte 720 covered bridge, on the Rte 11 side of the river. You'll see a small gravel parking lot with railroad ties, and there are often large poultry manure piles on the other side of the road, which also serves as the entrance to the kid's corn maze
- Rudes Hill- Paved parking with under the bridge access. Hand launch through two gates. No swimmin allowed at this access point. Please note this is a more difficult access point. The Meems Bottom Covered Bridge access one mile downstream is more user friendly
- South Jackson- Hand launching access to river
- Memorial Park- You will need to carry your boat 50 yards through the playground past the picnic shelter to reach the hand launch. This access is located at a public park and features a public swimming pool, picnic area, playground, ball field, and public restrooms
- North Fork at New Market- The parking for this access is at the corner New Market Depot Rd and Plains Mill Rd. Follow the path under the bridge to the river. This is hand launch only; good for wading and swimming
- Strasburg Town Park- One of the most family/kid friendly accesses in the Shenandoah Valley. A huge gravel parking lot, with porter johns, lies next to the river along with a concrete boat launch for canoes, kayaks, and very shallow drafting aluminum boats
- Deer Rapids- A new Game Department gravel lot and gravel boat ram was built in 2011 when the bridge was replaced. This is a great launching point for the float down to the Strasburg Town Park 5.6 miles downstream
- Burnshire Bridge- The parking spot and the trail to the river is on the Woodstock side of the river on the downstream side of the bridge. A tight and steep rocky trail along the edge of the bridge is suitable for wading accees and small hand carried boats or canoes
- Chapman Landing Road- A popular access point for wade-fishermen and boaters. Plenty of parking in a flat gravel lot. A concrete ramp facilitates the launch of Jon boats or aluminum jet boats
- Farmers Mill- Off Headley Road (600) turn into Ridgeley Road which soon follows the edge of the river. You'll see several gravel pull-offs along the way until you see a larger drop off and pull off right before the road turns away from the river. That's where most people hand launch or retrieve boats
- Hollingsworth Road- There is a small gravel parking lot at the elbow in the road just before Rte 609 (Hollingsworth Road) turns to cross the North Fork
- Red Banks- Parking is on the corner of land between the river and Rte 11 north of the bridge