This fall, over 340 people joined the James River Association for a paddle on the James River. As the lush greenery of late summer — punctuated by paw paw fruit, purple pickerel weed flowers, and bald eagle flights — matured into fall, these paddlers each took the opportunity to spend some quality time on their river. In September, we waited with anticipation in hopes of catching a glimpse of an endangered Atlantic sturgeon breach. In October, we listened to the quiet swish of wild rice bending in the breeze, watched golden sunlight dapple at the bottom of Four Mile Creek, and rejoiced in the colorful autumn leaves. Each month, week, and day offers new opportunities to be wowed with natural beauty.

People seek out nature for many reasons. Some love the exercise, the views, the history, learning about wildlife, or just enjoying a peaceful moment of wind, sun, and water. Whatever your reasons, when you sign up for a “Connect with the James” paddle, you can expect our skilled staff to guide you on a beautiful adventure through the waters of the James.

These paddles used to be offered through our Stewardship team, helmed by Justin Doyle. This year, we transitioned those paddles over to our Education department, and have expanded the number and location of paddles we offer. We’ve held programs at Ancarrow’s Landing, Osborne Landing, Turkey Island Creek, Deep Bottom Park, Hopewell Marina, and the James City Marina. Each program offers a unique opportunity to experience the James River.

We are planning on continuing this expanded schedule in the spring, so if you didn’t get the chance to join us in the fall, you’re not too late! There will be fireflies, osprey chicks, and perhaps — if you’re lucky — the lemon-colored flash of a prothonotary warbler’s wing.

“Connect with the James” paddles are open to absolutely anyone — whether you’re an avid kayaker or have never touched a paddle before. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, we can’t wait to meet you and share some quality river time with you!

Thank you so much to those of you who joined us on the James this year, and to our generous donors and to the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay for making these programs possible. We couldn’t have done it without you!