Get Out On The Water

If you like kayaking or canoeing, paddleboats, or just sitting by the water and enjoying a meal, there are a lot of options here.


Smith River
The Smith River

Smith River Outfitter – The Smith River Outfitter is run by river expert Brian Williams on his weekends. He is the project manager for the Dan River Basin Association and knows all things water-related, including trout fishing. He can get you on the Smith or on Philpott Lake and set you up with guided fishing trips. The storefront and river access for Smith River Outfitters is located by the bridge in Bassett. You can put in here and float down to a number of exits. 2020

Wine & Water Wednesday – For select dates through the summer, Hamlet Vineyards and Smith River Outfitters have teamed up to bring us a paddle down the Smith River followed by a meal at the vineyard.

South Martinsville Access to Smith River Sports Complex –  Right in the old proverbial back yard, this stretch is 4.6 miles.  It has some rapids but nothing difficult.  Check the water flow before you go as the more water the dam is letting out, the faster the current.  It’s a really good trip at 400 CFS.  There are a number of things that cross over the river so it might be interesting to look at a map beforehand so that you will know what you are crossing under as you go.  2020

Dan River (North Carolina)
Beaching the Kayaks on a Dan River Company Trip

Dan River Company –  30 minutes from MHC. Going down the Dan with the DRC is an excellent choice. These guys are pros. They have a big parking lot (really big) and they’ll shuttle you up the river and put you in. The Dan is shallow and the rapids are class I so it is a good stretch for beginners and an enjoyable stretch for taking it easy. 2016

The General Dan Tubing Company – 30 to 40 minutes from Martinsville. This is on my to-do list. Take a gander at their website. It looks like fun!

Upper James River
Taking My Mom Down the James River

Glen Wilton to Gala – 2 hours from MHC. We went on this 7.5 mile stretch of the Upper James River with a local church group and it was incomparable for me . This is close to the headwaters for the James and the water is crystal clear. We were also lucky enough to see trains pass by on tressels overhead.  There is one Class II rapid called “The Squeeze” but it is otherwise an easy paddle. 2016


A note about Lake Lanier: Lake Lanier is a private lake in the Forest Park/Druid Hills neighborhoods of Martinsville. There is an Association that governs it, I think, but I have no information on it. There are swans to see and it is beautiful but I think that you have to be a member of the Association to fish or get out on the lake. 2016

Philpott Lake
Philpott Lake

Philpott is a beautiful lake here in the area and is popular with photographers, anglers, and boaters alike. For more information about getting on or camping at Philpott, ask the Philpott Marina. 2020 Leaf peeping 2020

Fairy Stone Park – I’m including Fairy Stone Park here because, in addition to trails and camping (and a good gift shop), they have a fantastic beach area and you can rent paddle boats to get out on the water. I believe that there is a separate lake there too but I’m unclear about that. This is another area that never made it onto the blog … but it will. In the meantime, check out the link.

Fairystone Park
Beaver Creek Reservoir

Beaver Creek Reservoir is located at 450 Redskin Drive in Collinsville, next the Patrick Henry Community College. This is on my to-do list. It is only open on the weekends. I’ve been told that you can rent a paddleboat and/or kayak there but it may be primarily a fishing opportunity. I tried to go on Labor Day (a Monday) but they do not apparently extend their hours for long weekends.

Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake is huge and I only ever see a portion of it. Here’s what I can recommend or what’s on my to-do list:

Bridgewater Plaza – Bridgewater Plaza is a shopping center on Smith Mountain Lake that has shopping, several restaurants, an outdoor bar area that puts on live concerts, an arcade … um, two arcades, a fully functioning marina, a mini golf course that looks like an old western village and a school of carp that are constantly fed on popcorn from the marina. If you can’t enjoy yourself here, check your pulse. Sep 2017, Oct 2017

Feeding the Fish at Bridgewater Plaza

Mariner’s Landing – has been on my list of places to see for a while. In normal times, they have a lot of activities. We’ll just have to wait Covid out on this one.


I’m getting ahead of myself here because I haven’t made it to the beach yet but we are close to the coast. I do plan to get out that way. Eventually. Here are some ideas:

Virginia Beach – is about a four to five hour drive from Martinsville

The Outer Banks of North Carolina – are five to six hours away from Martinsville.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – is about four to five hours away from Martinsville.