Friday, September 3, 2010

Kayaking The Chicahominy

The Chicahominy River flows roughly northwest to southeast, all of it across the almost-flat coastal plain of Virginia known as "Tidewater". Here, when the tide is ebbing rivers flow toward the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, but as the tide turns and begins to rise, the river currents slow, stop, reverse their direction, and for six hours flow upstream. The river meanders its sinuous course across the coastal plain, mostly shallow and spread out, filling the swampy areas along both sides and providing a rich ecosystem that is difficult for humans to develop.  Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes settled along its banks long ago, living in harmony with their surroundings and being supported by the river and marshes. Each tribe still has land along the river.
At its broad mouth, the Chicahominy joins the even wider James River just above Jamestown. Here, on land next to the new Route 5 Bridge, James City County maintains a wonderful park that includes acres of woods, picnic areas, a large grassy field, a boat launch ramp, and lots of camping sites.
As long as you pay attention to whether the tide is flowing in or out, the flat water here is a wonderful, easily accessible place to enjoy a paddle on the river.

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