Maury - Goshen Pass (Route 39) to Rockbridge Baths

Maury, Virginia, US


Goshen Pass (Route 39) to Rockbridge Baths (Goshen Pass)

Usual Difficulty III+(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 48 fpm
Max Gradient 71 fpm

Low-water Corner Rapid

Low-water Corner Rapid
Photo of Wendy Dalton by Trafford McCrae @ 550cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02021500 350 - 15000 cfs III+(IV) 00h35m 466 cfs (running)
Read the written description on 'Flow Info' tab.

River Description

See the Safety Note below about the wood in Devil's Kitchen.

Also, 9/19/12: There are some reports of new wood (not just the cut-up rootball) in Devil's Kitchen, below House Rock. Also a report of wood in the runout near "the steps" at Indian Pool.

Shuttle Description:
This run is almost entirely a roadside trip. Route 39 runs basically beside the river for almost all of the run. Above Indian Pool the land is state property - the Goshen Pass Wildlife Management Area. There is private land below Indian Pool, but still plenty of access. Walking, jogging, biking, or bumming a shuttle are options. Put-in and take-out options abound.

Take-out: The take-out at the old General Store along Rt. 39 in Rockbridge Baths will allow you to run the entire section. Most folks choose a shorter option. Proceeding upriver, the other take-out options are as follows: The Ledges, The Springs, Indian Pool, and Laurel Run Picnic Area. Bite off as much as you want; or do laps on the meat.

Put-in options: The traditional put-in is at the swinging bridge at the head of the Pass. To reach this area head west on Rt. 39 through the Pass; you'll see Laurel Run picnic area on your right. Drive about 1-1.5 miles past the picnic area and then begin looking for a gravel road heading off to the right. The road is immediately after the river swings away from the road. Turn right onto the gravel road and drive about 100 yards. There is a large dirt parking area here. Plenty of other options available.

Since 2007, this section of the Maury River has hosted an grassroots annual downriver race. The Goshen Race typically occurs the first weekend in March in which there is flow over 600 cfs by 6 a.m. (Unless there is good local creeking going on!) If sufficient water is not available that weekend, the race automatically falls back to the next weekend with 600 cfs or more. The race starts at high noon above Undercut Rock rapid. For details on this year's race check the "Comments" section of this webpage or watch BoaterTalk.Com and the Coastal Canoeists website: .

  Below: Devil's Kitchen, Goshen Race 2009:

Trip Description:
This is probably the most "classic" run in the state of Virginia - and for good reason: The Goshen Pass section is several miles of high-quality roadside intermediate whitewater with plenty of play spots and creeky slot-moves for the more advanced paddler. The scenery is superb and the river running is always enjoyable. See also Ed Grove's , "Classic Virginia Rivers" (1992, Howling Wolf Publications).

It goes a little something like this:

"Undercut Rock": The first notable rapid, immediately below the "lappers" put-in. A large undercut boulder rests near the right bank with most of the river passing to the left over an almost-river-wide 2' ledge. Most boaters run one of several lines down the river-left. The large undercut has had wood stuck up in it's maw for almost all of 10 years now. "Wigwam" is the large loaf-shaped splat rock below this rapid.

  Tandem splats at Wigwam Rock:

"Roadside": makes a small surfing wave, or two, or three, at certain water levels. Here the river necks down against the road embankment while dropping over shallow shale.

"Bikini Row": Named for the lovely college women from Virginia's finest university ("dubyuhnell", of course) who decorate the riverbank here in the late spring and summer seasons, this class III section has several little pools, big boulders, multiple splat rocks, and a few mellow slot moves. A word of advice: that girl sunning herself on the rocks doesn't think splatting is as cool as you think it is. (In fact she wonders why you keep bumping into that rock like an idiot). "Mogwai" hole is the small but loopable hole near the end of Bikini Row:

"Devil's Kitchen": After Bikini Row the water slows down (at most levels) at a large pool before entering a tilted boulder garden known as Devil's Kitchen. The Kitchen is the signature rapid in the Pass and there are many different options for lines. The classic line is to catch "Cadillac eddy" behind the large rock on the upper left, then chart a course pointing 45-degrees towards the opposite (right) bank, negotiating small ledge holes on your way. This line should take you far away from the two undercut rocks which are below "House Rock" (the biggest squarish rock near the middle-top). Alternative lines are everywhere for the creative paddler, so catch an eddy and look for something new if you need some variety. Award yourself one point for every eddy you catch through Kitchen. The record is around 40-45 eddies. The previously reported wood hazard in Kitchen has been reduced to a log/stump that is downstream and to the left of House Rock, as of August, 2011. A crew of boaters sawed-up the huge tree/rootball that had been lodged against House Rock. The wood is not visible at some water levels.

From Alicia J. on (8/2011): "I also wanted to pass along that the denuded root ball has moved in Devil's Kitchen from just left of House Rock to nearly the center of the rapid. I ran the river right line both days, & it was not in play. A friend said it was also not in play when running the left to right line. But just be aware that it's likely to move downstream w/ the next high water."

  Below: Devil's Kitchen at a typical flow:

Below Kitchen: There is a series of distinct two-foot ledges jutting out from the right bank; then a jumbled rock garden, called "Double Pin." The rapids then quickly taper into a pool just above Laurel Run picnic ground.

Laurel Run Picnic Area: A long flat stretch of water with a developed picnic area on the right bank. Alternative access is possible here. Open-boaters can be seen here puffing hard on cigarettes, to calm their nerves.

"School Bus Boof:" A 3' ledge on river-left forms a very nice boof onto a very shallow rock shelf at levels of 800+ cfs.

  A clapper boof at "School Bus," March, 1997:


The ledge immediately below School Bus is...

"Laurel Run wave:" This was once a wide retentive hole. Now it is a small surfing wave at lower levels. Tiny, brushy Laurel Run enters from the river-right through a scenic stone bridge arch. After the wave, some class II-III water wraps around the corner toward...

"Corner Rapid:" Although Kitchen is longer and more technical Corner seems to cause more carnage. You'll know you're reaching Corner when the river turns sharply left and a concrete-and -rock buttressed overlook is visible high above the river. Tourists and shuttle bunnies lurk far above the river, hungry for your carnage. Will you deliver? A sizable pourover dominates the center of the river. At low to medium flow, the sides of this pourover make a great boof. Some folks opt to run to the left of the boof rock and then cut quickly back to the right in order to miss "Hematoma Hole," an aggressive chunk of barely-submerged sandstone that is a few boat-lengths below the pourover/boof rock. Other route options exist, including "the meltdown," "Hoffa Slot," and "Jimmy Hoffa Jr." - all of which are to going farther to the right of the boof respectively. Hoffa Slot is a thin line into a hidden room where you can disappear like Jimmy Hoffa... but hopefully not for as long as old Jimmy. The "Jimmy Jr." slot only appears when flows are well into the thousands.

      Dave L. dialing in the boof line at Corner rapid (Hoffa Slot is in the foreground):

"Wall Rapid:" (aka, "Sliding Rock rapid") Here the river is pushed to the right against a bare, sloping rock wall. Run against the sloping rock for the deepest water. Rock spins!

"Indian Pool:" (aka, "the stairs") After "Wall" and a few more small rapids, you'll reach a quiet stretch known as Indian Pool. Access is possible here if you want a shorter run of just the meat. This is the spot to take-out if the water is low or you want to do multiple laps on the best drops on the river. The small rapid above Indian Pool reportedly has a nice eddy line for squirt boaters. The last hole becomes a primo playspot at 4000 cfs.

Below Indian Pool: Below the pool, there is a playful stretch of class III water with several workable playholes. Along the left bank, in the middle of more class II-III water, three ledges in a row stick out from the left bank. All three are retentive, but shallow. Access is possible at "the springs" - look for a pipe sticking out of the woods above a creek. You may note the sign, "Water Not Safe For Drinking." Park in the gravel pull-out there.

"The Ledges:" Another stretch of class II-III water leads into The Ledges. Here, in typical Goshen fashion, a rock ledge juts from the left bank. The ledge creates a river-wide surf hole big enough for at least five boats. The surf is best here at 1000 cfs or above. Look for a blue house with a concrete retaining wall rising from the river. Access is possible immediately after The Ledges on the river-right.

"Lava Falls:" There is no "lava," and this is not a "falls." At most levels this rapid is pretty mundane, but in the very rare high flood this rapid is transformed into possibly the biggest hole on the river - a huge standing wave/hole reminiscent of the "real" Lava Falls on the Colorado. I kid you not, this little thing comes alive in big water.

Lava Falls at a fairly high flow:

Brillo: An easy class II-III drop runnable on the right, or down a middle line. There is a jumble of rocks on the left.

After Brillo you'll soon paddle under the Route 39 bridge; and soon after that a swinging footbridge on your way to the old General Store and Post Office in Rockbridge Baths. Enjoy.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-09-19 15:23:22


Rapid Descriptions

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