Celebrate the South River
Once two towns divided by a river, Waynesboro is now one city enhanced by the natural and recreational opportunities provided by the South River. The river is a source of beauty, especially as seen from the footbridge in Ridgeview Park and along the South River Greenway. It’s the backdrop for festivals, summer concerts, community races, and youth sporting events. It’s also one of only two urban trout fisheries in the state. Here’s how to enjoy it this spring.
Riverfest: Saturday, April 30, 2022, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Celebrate the Year of the Monarch Butterfly at Riverfest 2022 in Constitution Park South. This annual Waynesboro festival takes place in and around the South River and “promotes environmental conservation and watershed stewardship in the Shenandoah River Basin.” Riverfest is designed to help people, especially kids, get outdoors and learn to appreciate the river, an important and beautiful natural resource.
-You’ll learn how to identify and appreciate reptiles from all over the world at the Reptile World program. Reptile educator Michael Shwedick will introduce you to lizards, a snapping turtle, small alligators and crocodiles, and snakes, including a young boa constrictor and a python.
-Splash around in the river and get a guided tour of it and its inhabitants when you set out on a stream safari.
-Take a canoe ride and learn the basics of navigating the river in this ancient form of transportation. Ages 8+.
-Meet the education animals from the Wildlife Center of Virginia. You’ll learn how injured wildlife is rescued and rehabilitated.
-Show off your talents and create something cool in the kids’ arts and crafts area.
-Compete in the Fish-n-Fun Rodeo. You’ll catch and release live trout!
-Learn about electro-fishing with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
-Check out the tent of environmentally-focused games, activities, and displays. You’ll meet volunteers from the Virginia Museum of Natural History and Center for Coldwaters Restoration, Shenandoah Valley Beekeeper’s Association, Headwaters Chapter Virginia Master Naturalists, Shenandoah Valley Trout Unlimited, and many more organizations.
-Grab something tasty from a local food vendor.
-Finally, adopt a duck for the Great South River Duck Race. For $5 a duck, you can participate in the grand finale of the festival when a flotilla of yellow duckies races down the river. The five speediest ducks score cash and gift certificates for their handlers!
Fishing the South River
One of two Augusta County rivers with the same name, the South River that flows through Waynesboro begins near Greenville. It flows north for 50 miles before joining the North River and becoming the South Fork Shenandoah River. The water is cooled by springs and mountain streams and provides anglers with chances to fish in warm and cold water. The river in and around Waynesboro is stocked with brown and rainbow trout and includes sections designated for catch and release and fishing only by young fishermen. Anglers can also catch smallmouth, largemouth and rock bass, fallfish, and redbreast sunfish. Waynesboro visitors who want to stay dry can enjoy an all-access fishing overlook in Constitution Park.
Waynesboro Water Trail
The river is also an excellent resource for canoers, kayakers, and other paddlers of all skill levels because of its volume of water and gentle flow. If you miss Riverfest, you can access the South River in several spots along the Waynesboro Water Trail, which winds for four miles through the middle of the city connecting five solid-ground parks. These boast launch and takeout points, beautiful views, picnic facilities, parking, restrooms, playgrounds, and more. Put in at the launching chute in Ridgeview Park and enjoy a leisurely 4-mile float to the takeout point at Basic Park. If you want to spend all day on the water, continue downstream to Crimora or Grottoes Parks.
You can also take your canoe or kayak to nearby Sherando Lake, a 25-acre man-made lake with beautiful mountain views and a sandy beach.
If you don’t have your own watercraft, buy or rent one from Rockfish Gap Outfitters. This knowledgeable outdoor store has been outfitting people for their adventures for 36 years! They carry one- and two-person kayaks and canoes as well as stand-up paddleboards from Perception and Wilderness Systems. Rentals include the watercraft, paddles, and PFDs, but you’ll need to provide your own transportation to put-in-and take-out areas. If you rent and then decide to buy, a portion of your rental fee can be applied to your purchase.
The South River Paddler Facebook group is a great local resource for folks who want to join like-minded river lovers for paddling adventures, organized clean-ups, and more. You’ll find information about river conditions, wildlife, and events of interest to the community.