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 Outfitter – Smith River Outfitters is under new ownership starting in 2021 and my understanding is that they are continuing to offer the guided fishing tours but are not offering kayak rental and shuttle services. There used to be arrangements between Smith River Outfitter and Hamlet Vineyards but I don’t know what those will look like going forward. I’d give Hamlet a call if you are interested in something like that. 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
Three Rivers Outfitters – Three Rivers operates out of Eden but will put you in on the Smith up to the dam and let you float down to them. They may also be able to rent you a kayak for getting out on Philpott but I think that’s a gray area for 2021, as they are taking over for whatever kayaking demand Smith River Outfitter had.
Bassett to Fieldale – The trip from the Smith River Outfitters headquarters down to Fieldale is a beautiful and easy trip without much in the way of permanent hazards. Check out this 2020 post for photos.
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 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!
Madison River Park – I ran across a news report (below) about the May 2021 opening of a newly renovated park in Madison, NC and I am trying to coordinate a group of people who want to go tubing. This stretch of river is the result of an $8 million dollar project and it looks fantastic.
What I know as of right now is that, to make reservations, you call The Madison Recreation Department at (336) 548-2789. They will sign you up for tubing ($12 a person) or kayaking ($25 a person) over the phone and there are no refunds. (I’m sure prices are subject to change so I’m just giving you a ballpark).
Apparently, organizing a group to go tubing is a lot like herding cats. This is high on my list though so I hope to have better info soon (ish).
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 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.
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 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
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.