The minimum is WAY too low, especially for the first few miles after the put in on Buffalo Road. I paddled this today at 5.6 ft and must have gotten out of my kayak 20+ times, and that says a lot because I'm stubborn about not walking when it gets shallow. Shortly before the dam at around the halfway point at Advanced Mills, I believe it's Swift Run or another small river that combines to make the flow better (after this point, for the next ~7 mi, I only got out around 5 times). There are two dams, with the first one at the halfway point being the dodgier one that has no warning signs and two options for portage: a death ladder of curved metal rebar straight down the dam face on the left, or what is likely trespassing on that same side via an overgrown trail. The second dam has warning signs and is manicured, maybe a mile before the rt 29 takeout. I'd not do this whole stretch again. It would have to be at 9+ ft to put in at Buffalo Road, and at least 7 ft to consider putting in below Advanced Mills (if there was actually anywhere safe to do so without trespassing, that is).
This refers to the North Fork between Profitt Rd and the confluence with the South Fork: there is a riverwide strainer with steep banks on both sides. I basically and ashamedly ended up half boofing over the small section with a few inches of water above it. I got up on the tree and scooted for 10 minutes to get to the other side. This was at about 180 cfs on the Earlysville gage, which was probably close to the lowest runnable level. The North Fork is very much a large stream, albeit a gorgeous and peaceful one with approximately zero other paddlers.
I am a believer in trying any river once, but I feel like we as locals owe it to non locals to call it like we see it- this river really isn't worth the paddle. Class 1 is the BEST I could call it, and it has a 4 foot dam/portage that lowers its desirability rating even further. I ran it "high" (600cfs at Earlysville) on 1/1/06 because the Moormans hadn't come up (our best local stream) and I thought being a "fork" it would be more interesting than the Main Rivanna. I am sad to say it wasn't. If you're interested in an interesting whitewater stream (after all, this isn't American Flatwater) in the Cville area, try the Moormans, Rivanna from Market to Shadwell, or head out farther to the Hardware, Tye, etc....
It might be good to put a cooler of beer in the boat and fish n' float, though.
I would like to pass along some hopefully useful information for this river.
The information currently displayed appears to be from Corbett's book,
however I believe there is now some better information available in regards
to gauge level.
The USGS has begun reporting data for this stream again at station ID#
02032640 found here:
The gauge that Corbett has referenced is in a different watershed, so using
the NF Rivanna gauge will deliver a more accurate measure of the NF Rivanna
From my observations, a minimum level for this stretch would be 2.8 ft on
the above gauge. I also feel that the difficulty rating has been overstated.
I would rate this river a class I-II- at most. I am an open boater and
probably rate rivers a little higher in difficulty than most kayakers.
Hopefully this information can be of use. Please let me know if you have any
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Advanced Mills Dam, Experimental play feature
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