Accotink Creek - Ward Park La. to US 1

Accotink Creek, Virginia, US


Ward Park La. to US 1

Usual Difficulty I-II (for normal flows)
Length 4.9 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm
Max Gradient 65 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01654000 100 - 4000 cfs I-II 01h04m 12.6 cfs (too low)

River Description

Virginia Whitewater, Roger Corbett; also Ed Grove

The first part of this trip, over the fall line, is the only good whitewater on Accotink Creek, but to get to the putin is a challenge. Go to the end of Ward Park Lane (off Yarwood Court, off Fullerton Road), drive to the back of the trucking company (they were friendly when I did this), and unload your boat. After you park back on Yarwood Court, you must take your boat down a steep slope that drops 70 feet. Wear gloves, to avoid both thorns and rope burns (as you play out the painter), and angle upstream where the gradient is somewhat less.
Your reward is a series of rock gardens and ledges in close succession, through a pretty gorge. The best rapids, which are class II, are the rock garden and the ledge visible looking upstream from Fullerton Road. The second one-third mile, below Fullerton Road, is not quite as lively as the first, and after that the creek is flat with occasional riffles. As you paddle alongside the power line, a pair of small ledges (that mark an old road) produces minor hydraulics. The scenery is excellent through the gorge, especially when the wisteria are in bloom in mid-spring, but deteriorates afterwards. If you are interested just in white water, take out at Alban Road, after 1.4 miles.
A quarter mile below Alban Road, you pass beneath I-95 (which you can hear from the put in, despite the noise barriers). Don't miss the excellent graffiti painting of a juggler/acrobat. The creek winds between low gravel banks, with some braiding and fallen trees to work your way around and through. You are likely to see blue herons and Canada geese. The gradient to Telegraph Road, at 1.4 miles, is just 7 feet/mile. The class II ledge at the bridge is excellent for surfing. Below there, the gradient picks up to 20 feet/mile, expended through a series of long riffles, before slowing down again. (Corbett warns not to paddle below Telegraph Road, because you would be going through the military�s Davison Airfield, but the airfield boundaries have changed and there is no problem anymore.) The take out on upstream river right at US 1 is muddy, but it is only a short carry/drag to a parking area. Below US 1, it is 1.2 flat miles down to Accotink Bay.

Ed Evangelidi testifies:
This creek is normally run as three sections: from just below King Arthur Rd. to Lake Accotink, from below Lake Accotink to Ft. Belvoir and again from below the restricted part of Ft. Belvoir to tidewater. However, it is easy to combine the upper two sections by paddling scenic Lake Accotink and portaging the dam. It is not clear if the lower section, which also runs through part of Ft Belvoir, is currently open or restricted by new security measures. The upper reaches of Lake Accotink are popular with birdwatchers in flatwater boats.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2005-05-11 16:59:32


Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

Users can submit comments.
February 5 2006 (4727 days ago)
Bill KirbyDetails
Everything I said last year about the Engineer Proving Ground changing hands to the County is OBE
(Overtaken By Events). The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process identified the EPG as prime
re-development space for Army expansion. So, instead of becoming park land, the EPG is about to
become home to a number of highly secure installations. As of now, Feb 06, the EPG is in a mostly
abandoned condition, but some time this year the fences will go up. Get those quasi-legal runs in
while you can; these may be the last in our lifetimes.

If you do run the creek, stay away from the section below Telegraph Rd, near the airfield. That is
a very sensitive area, and the MPs will hunt you down.
January 18 2005 (5110 days ago)
Bill KirbyDetails
The Engineer Proving Ground is still in Army hands, but the whole EPG is slated for conveyance from
the Army to Fairfax County for development as soon as they finish removing the unexploded ordnance
on the site. VDOT is finishing up plans for extending the Fairfax County Parkway across a portion
of the EPG, with a new bridge over Accotink

So, while there has been no formal relaxation of restrictions on boating the creek, it appears that
the EPG may be open in fact. I have driven in on Cissna Road from Backlick Rd. to the bridge
several times recently and have not been challenged. The reach below Telegraph Road, inside the
base near the airfield, is still very much closed.

The stretch through the EPG has nice ledges and boulder garden drops in a miniature canyon. It
could be a great Falls Line run if the access issues are cleared up.

P.S. The photos of the waterfall above are on the wrong page. That's Scott Run.