Surf n' Turf | James River Watershed
Surf n' Turf: n. (/sərf/n/tərf/)
Surf n' Turf is a main course offering of gradient & whitewater paired with dirt & singletrack. A typical 'surf' component would mix rocks, water, hydraulics, and waves that can be boofed and surfed. The 'turf' is typically miles of loamy, rocky, and rooty singletrack. The key to a good day of Surf n' Turf is all about the distance between sessions; the closer the better.
"My favorite Surf n' Turf combo meal? The #3, Bike n' Paddle."
There are plenty of great outdoor combos in the James River Watershed, but linking Richmond's fall line on the 'Lower' in combination with the trails of the James River Park System is a standout. If you're looking for a backcountry experience, try Johns Creek + Dragon's Back in the headwaters of the James. Whether you head to Richmond or decide to slay the Dragon, both of these Surf n' Turf options will fill your appetite for a day well spent in the outdoors.
James River Park System
The secret is out. The James River Park System is popular destination for locals and visitors alike, all seeking to get a day in the great outdoors. The park attracts a variety of outdoor enthusiasts: kayakers, mountain bikers, dog walkers, trail runners, families, canoers, fishermen, bird watchers, beer drinkers, photographers, ect... Amazingly, JRPS has almost all the outdoor disciplines you might expect to find in the mountains, but consolidated in one park, right in downtown Richmond. The whitewater of the falls is runnable year round, with a handful of options for shuttle and length. To match the quality of the whitewater on the James, is a world class trail system that lines the banks, and makes great use of the elevation on the bluffs overlooking the river. JRPS defines the ease of a Surf n' Turf, and with a location like Richmond, there is no shortage food and beverage when you leave the park.
Johns Creek and Dragon's Back
A classic day in the headwaters of the James River. I'm getting excited just typing this! Johns Creek is classic Class IV run carving it's way through the Ridge & Valley region of the Alleghenies. The gorge is intimate, with cliff lined walls and over a dozen of beautiful rapids. Johns Creek runs often, which means you can give the trails a day to dry out after the rain and still be able to align yourself with a post paddle ride at the Dragon's Back of North Mountain. To "slay the dragon", be ready for plenty of steep elevation changes along this very rock ridgeline - an iconic backcountry experience that is seldom rivaled in the mountain bike scene around Roanoke. Surf n' Turf of the finest kind!
Of course, both of these destinations are a couple of my favorites, but the entire James River Watershed is filled with great options to link two outdoor specialties in a single trip. What is yours? Please share by tagging @homeonthejames on Facebook or Instagram.