There’s no better way to beat the heat than getting in the water, and the crisp, cool 45-degree waters of the Smith River will cool you down. Along the Smith River Trail System, eleven public canoe ramps are available for use by paddlers and fishermen. If you enjoy whitewater, canoe or kayak the river during peak generation from Philpott Dam. If a relaxing flat water paddle is more your speed, put your boat or tube in further downstream.
Travel time is determined by water level and flow conditions; hydro-electric generation will increase water flows and decrease travel times. A general rule of thumb for planning canoe or kayak trips on gentle moving water is to allow 25-30 minutes per river mile. Call 276.629.2432 before paddling or fishing to listen to a recorded generation schedule for Philpott Dam.
Gathering volume below Bassett, the Smith River meanders through Henry County, channeled by historic structures such as a Native American fish weir, rocky navigation sluices and diversions for water intakes along the industrial corridor. At times of normal water flows, this section is rated as suitable for novices and low to intermediate paddlers.
Mid-way down the Smith is the Martinsville Dam. The Doe Run Access point provides a takeout above the dam to allow for portage to the next access point below the dam which allows travelers to continue on their journey. You can also take out here and visit the trails, parks, shops, museums, and restaurants in Martinsville which is the largest community on the river.
Below Martinsville, the river briefly passes through another industrial section before returning to a forested corridor graced by gentle rapids and abundant wildlife. The most popular area for paddlers is the lower sections of the river which are suitable for novice paddlers. These areas can be accessed from the South Martinsville ramp to the Smith River Sports Complex. This section is also the race course for the annual Smith River Boat Race which is a part of the annual Smith River Fest celebration. Downstream from the Sports Complex is Eggleston Falls, the largest rapid on the Smith, which is rated for intermediate boaters. The great thing about this beautiful section of the river is that it is varied and interesting enough for experienced boaters and still great for the novice.
Ready to paddle the Smith, but don’t have the gear? No problem. All equipment is available for rent at Smith River Outfitters located at 3399 Fairystone Park Highway in Bassett, VA. Canoes, kayaks and a raft are available for rent and shuttle service is offered. Guided fishing trips by an experienced, professional angler are also available for whole or half days. Smith River Outfitters is opened Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and weekdays by appointment.
Interested in learning more about the abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities in Martinsville-Henry County, or want to experience it first hand? If so, then mark your calendars for our 12th Annual Smith River Fest happening on Saturday, August 10th from 9:00-4:00 at the Smith River Sports Complex in Axton. The Smith River Fest showcases all the exciting ways to experience the outdoors and have adventures in Martinsville-Henry County, VA. Learn more about the Smith River Trail System that includes more than twenty miles of trails and the Smith River that’s perfect for fishing, paddling, and floating. Smith River Fest includes the Helgramite Hustle 5k Mud Run, Kids Mini Mud Run, the Smith River Boat Race, a casting pool with fly tying demos, inflatables, rock wall, kids cycling station, games, petting zoo, gear swap, craft beer, food and vendors of all types. As always, admission and parking are FREE. For more details, go to www.SmithRiverFest.com.