Big Piney description down for editing. Stay tuned.
Take-out: Park about 75 yards downstream of the intersection of Rte. 666 ("Woodson Rd" or "Dickie Rd") and Rte. 827 ("Perkins Mill Rd"). There is a small grass pull-in spot on the south side of the road beside the river.
**There aren't many eddies near the take-out so most folks eddy-out on the river-right above the bridge and climb over the gaurdrail, then walk downstream to the parking area.**
Put-in: Drive around 4 miles upstream from the take-out. You can park at the National Forest sign. [If you go upstream too far you will see "Shotgun" rapid (IV+ or V-) on the South Fork Piney. Shotgun has a deceptive undercut at the bottom, as well as a stout hole at good flow.]
There is definite potential for downed trees in the river so be heads up. The section from the Alhambra bridge down to Woodson is nice class III-IV water. There are several low-water bridges in this stretch that form lethal hydraulics at high water! Take care around the low-water bridges at all levels. At least one has dangerous culvert pipes under the bridge that have reportedly trapped at least one boater, resulting in a close call and a lost boat,
This river section has a history of on/off landowner issues going back to the 1980's. My advice: Be respectful, and as discrete as possible when in this area. Drive slowly and stay off of people's land. Let's not give anyone reason to be hostile toward boaters. Put-in within the National Forest. Take-out below the bridge near Woodson. Remember that Virginia navigability law is not necessarily kind to boaters on mountain streams (e.g., John's Creek).
For a minimum boatable flow, look for 450, which roughly correlates to a reading of zero on the takeout bridge gauge. It has been running a lot lately and here are a few gauge observations. 650 was 6" and 800 was 8" on the bridge gauge. Flows of 1000 and 1350 have both recently provided a level of 1'4". Things are still nice and fluid at 8". Below 6" and it starts to get a bit thin. More water really cleans things up nicely. A bridge reading of 1-1.5 ft is a wonderful level.
Recent high water has cleaned things up nicely on the Piney. Many of the large trees that have been present for a while are no longer an issue. As of 9/24/18, there is a tree across from the Natl Forest sign. If you put in above the Natl Forest sign, you may have to portage. You can scoot over it at higher water or put in below it. There is one other low hanging tree towards the end that you can duck under or scoot around on the left. As always, keep an eye out for wood as things will change often. Good thing is that you can road scout most of the road as your driving shuttle.
We usually put in on the South Fork, just downstream of the impressive shotgun rapid. The run is continuous class 3-4 boogie water with four drops (class 4) that stand out as harder than the rest of the run. I call them Corner, Island, Golden Triangle, and Bridge. The Piney is one ridge over from the very popular Tye River. The Piney is a solid step up from the classic class 3-3+ Upper Tye run.
This is a fun run that is great around 400 - 450 for a good intro into creeking. Very continious and lots of fun. As of today there are 3 points that you have to get out. Very fun section though.
The landowners around the Piney can be picky at times so please be respectful as with all of the other Nelson County runs. Don't be the one that ruins it for the rest of us!
2 years ago
by Gordon Dalton
There is a painted RC gauge on the bridge near the take-out. It is on the downstream river-left piling. A level of zero is close to true minimum flow. A level of 10"-12" is about perfect.
The USGS "Piney River at Piney River, VA" online gauge is a good indicator of flow for this run. A rough guide to minimum flow would be around 400-450 cfs. Recently (2018), we had a nice 10-12" flow with the USGS gauge reading around 650 cfs.
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Upper Piney - Ethan
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