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Dragon Run – Mattaponi, VA

a body of water surrounded by treesWhether you’re an experienced paddler, a beginner, or a naturalist prepared to try something a little off the beaten path, you’ll certainly enjoy Dragon Run. This surprising gem sneaks up on you through a guardrail gap off 17N just past the 33W intersection. Parking is sparse – to say the least – but the put in is just a few steps away from the entrance.

Once in your boat, it’s totally up to you whether you’d like to venture left towards what seems to be the home of a very lucky family or right towards the bridges. Going left involves some getting out of your boat and climbing over some fallen treesevery once in a while.

But the paddle includes some excellent scenery and beautiful hidden creeks. Be wary of the beaver dam however, as it is a bit challenging to paddle back up once you’ve crossed it (if you choose to do so).

Heading to the right out of the canoe launch towards the bridge doesn’t disappoint either! Cliff Swallows under the bridge have adorned it with their homes and busily flutter in and out at a pace that makes you feel rather remiss. Once you clear the structure, you’ll notice a lot more open water with fields of lily pads and river flowers lining the water’s edge. I recommend sunscreen as this stretch of the water provided much less shade.

a boat on a river surrounded by forest

All in all, absolutely beautiful area. I had high hopes with a name like Dragon Run but it certainly lives up to it. Happy Paddling!


From I-64, take Exit 220 towards West Point and continue on 33 which eventually joins US-17N about 10 minutes or so past town. Take a left on 17 and follow the rd for about 2 miles.  You’ll go over a bridge and see a break in the guard rail on your right. Turn through the guardrail and park to access the boat launch!

Words by Lauren Rasnick

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