Winter Hike on the Canal near Petersburg, VA – January 26th, 2020

Sunday, January 26th, 2020 was a beautiful clear sunny day for a hike along the canal from Ferndale Park where the Nancy Trout bridge crosses the canal to the towpath and the trail goes up-river/up-canal for 3.5 miles to the dam and the water intake for the canal.

Hiking along the canal you could tell there had been recent rains. The water was muddy and a great level.

I noticed a lot of new houses along the shore side that weren’t there years ago when some high school friends and I would paddle canoes up the canal and cross over to paddle down the Appomattox back to the beginning and also all the way to Petersburg depending on how much time we had to paddle. There were a couple of trees down that could be cut out. An old bridge still had the steel frame across the canal. 

Midway we could see the rapid in the river that goes to the left of the old dam that was built pre-civil war era. I can remember turning the canoe into this rapid many times years earlier. Funny how just walking this trail was enough today.

Arriving at the dam we looked up at where the water was coming through a dam breach that was made.

Plenty of water was getting into the canal and it was cool seeing the dam works zig-zagging over and up-river. 

I urge Canal Society Members to gather for great day-hikes like this and don’t forget your lunch. The hike was further than I remembered and was great.

Holt Messerly
VC&NS Publishing