Difficulty III-IV(V)
Length 4.75 Miles
Gauge Johns Creek at New Castle
Flow Range 4.70 - 10.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago ~ 3.2 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 02/14/2020 6:33 am

River Description

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.  

Rapid Descriptions

Coke Island

Class - III+ Mile - 2.9

Little Heinzerling

Class - III Mile - 3

Bambi Meets Godzilla

Class - IV Mile - 3.2

Fool's Falls

Class - III Mile - 3.8
Last drop before things calm down. Run it on the right side, about 6ft off the shore. Get a nice boof


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11 years ago

I have video of jons if anybody is interested my email is crazycboater@verizon.net

Gage Descriptions

Painted gauge on the Rt. 615 bridge in Newcastle.

0.0 = Low
1.0 = Medium
2.0 = High

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



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Attention Virginia Boaters!

Jason Robertson

During the high waters of Spring 2003, there has been a noticeable increase in reported confrontations between boaters and property owners in Virginia. Please remember to be respectful and courteous to property owners; do not trespass; and avoid confrontation in order to preserve access in the future.
article main photo

John's Creek, VA Access Update

Jason Robertson

American Whitewater advises boaters to stay off John's Creek until the access situation is resolved. Another arrest will only worsen our efforts to improve access.
Two years ago, a group of local boaters completed improvements to the new American Whitewater access in New Castle, Virginia on the popular Class III-IV John’s Creek. American Whitewater secured the access site with the specific intent of allowing boaters continued access to John’s Creek without infringing on the rights of riparian landowners or the good nature of the New Castle community. Despite our good intentions, in March of 1999, one defiant boater was charged with trespassing while paddling John’s Creek.

Bill Durr


Matt Muir


Kevin Colburn


Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1214358 02/14/20 Bill Durr updated stats
1214359 02/14/20 Bill Durr updated stats
1199036 12/12/10 Matt Muir Copyedit; added abstract.
1191750 10/11/03 n/a n/a
1199971 05/02/11 Kevin Colburn Basic Update
1212439 05/19/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1207127 01/05/17 Thomas O'Keefe abstract edits
1205243 08/18/15 Kevin Colburn description update
1205236 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn description update
1205237 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn description update
1205238 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn description update
1205239 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn description update
1205240 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn description update
1205241 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn description update
1199972 05/02/11 Kevin Colburn
1205229 08/12/15 Kevin Colburn Take-Out Edit
1205231 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn Enhanced description
1205232 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn description update
1205233 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn added letter link
1205234 08/17/15 Kevin Colburn added video