Johns Creek, Virginia, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV(V) (for normal flows)|
|Johns Creek at New Castle|
|noaa-jcrv2||4.70 - 10.00 ft||III-IV(V)||08h46m||~ 6.24 ft (running)|
|Rough boatable flow, may be passable at lower flows rough boatable flow estimated|
Johns Creek is one of Virginia's whitewater treasures, with a well-documented history of use. The run is solid class IV, described as comparable to the Watauga River without Hydro or Stateline Falls. You can find descriptions in several guidebooks of classic rapids like Sirius the Dog Star, Royal Flush, Coke Island, Little Heinzerling, Bambi Meets Godzilla, Blind Man's Bluff, the Separator, and Fool's Falls.
The entire run is bordered by private property and at least one riparian landowner has opposed paddling in the past, including taking legal action against paddlers. Because of this, there was very little paddling use between the late nineties and 2015 because of legal uncertainties. In the spring of 2015 the VA Marine Resources Commission issued a letter determining that Johns Creek is a navigable stream until proven otherwise. A subsequent newspaper article stated that the County Attorney would not prosecute paddlers for criminal trespass, but that does not mean that the issue is fully legally resolved.
Because of the sensitivity of Johns Creek access, paddlers should stay in their boats if reasonably safe and at all possible, and not utilize the private shores for any purpose. This effectively makes the run extremely committing and at least a grade harder, so wise and conservative paddling choices are important. For the sake of access and safety, consider delaying a trip to Johns Creek and paddling with a solid crew that knows it well. And of course be extremely respectful of all riparian landowners regardless of the situation.
American Whitewater owns the take-out for the run, and paddlers are encouraged to use it if paddling the creek. Please change clothes in the changing room in the woods, drive courteously, and be extremely respectful of the nice neighbors. Day use only please. The take-out is a grassy parking area located about a quarter mile outside of New Castle, on the right just past Givens Construction Company as you head out of town. The public put-in is on the upstream side of the bridge where 311 crosses Johns Creek several miles upstream of the take out. Don't forget to patronize the local businesses while you are in New Castle.
Check out a video of Johns Creek from the ealy 90's.