Ed Evangelidi testifies:
Elkton to Luray is the guidebook section, but many paddle a shorter stretch from Newport to Luray. There is a public access point and a country store at Newport. The rapids above here are slightly milder. At low water the rapids are rocky and fortunately somewhat channelized. At medium to high water the rapids often contain nice, fairly regular waves. Expect a lot of boaters/floaters on a hot summer weekend and exceptional mountain scenery when the leaves are off the trees.
Ed Grove's "Classic Virginia Rivers" (ISBN-10: 0963457519) suggests the Newport to Luray section as well. I ran this with a couple of buddies on 07/12/2014 (1.55' on the Front Royal gauge) and it's a great section for a relaxing day-trip or for inexperienced paddlers.
If you put in at Kite's Store and Campground, you'll get the bonus of being able to run the Class II rapid at the site of Foltz's Mill. Just make sure to avoid the far left channel as the remains of the turbine are still present and can cause serious injury to boat and body.
Otherwise the trip is a straight-forward and relaxing journey with beautiful scenery, tons of herons and bald eagles, and good Class I and II- rapids that are fun in anything from a tube to a rec boat.
6 Nov 02: Ran a 6-mile stretch from Elkton to Shenandoah, Va. Definitly Class I here. The smallmouth bass fishing was great, however the river is contaiminated with mercury, and the State recommends eating only 8 onces of fish per month from the river. I prefer not eating any at all! Good take-out at the Game Department access site in Shenandoah. Pleasant, relaxing float trip with nice pastoral scenery. Fritz Crytzer
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