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Paddling after Pocahontas in Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve

Image Credit: VA DCR

Things to Know

  • Birdwatching: Bald eagles and more than 60 species of song birds

Navigational Hazards


Water Safety

Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Water trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate rivers. The National Park Service, Chesapeake Conservancy and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of water trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials. Learn more about water safety.

Marine Forecast

We STRONGLY suggested that you review the marine forecast ahead of heading out for a paddling trip. To review the forecast for this paddle trip, visit:

Emergency Information

In the event of an emergency, call 911.

Mary Washington Stafford Hospital
101 Hospital Center Blvd
Stafford VA 22554

Mary Washington Hospital
1001 Sam Perry Blvd
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Facility address:

Virginia DCR
81 Raven Road
Stafford, VA 22554

Parking & Shuttles

  • No entrance or parking fee
  • Overnight parking is not permitted - do not plan to use Crow’s Nest as a launch point for a multi-day trip
  • Brooke Road (20 spots, open 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.from early November-mid March  and 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from mid-March to early November )
  • Raven Road (Interior parking area?)




  • ALWAYS wear a personal flotation device (PFD) properly secured, at all times when participating in paddlesport activities.
  • Always bring a paddle float and water pump for self rescue.
  • A spray skirt is recommended for cold/foul weather.
  • Whether you are renting or bringing your own, make sure that your PFD has a safety whistle that is readily accessible.
  • Wear protective clothing appropriate to the weather, activity, and environment especially sun protection (large brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeved water-appropriate shirt, sunblock lotion). Assume that you will get wet and be mindful that your clothing would be safe to swim in.
  • Footwear: watershoes or similar are a must have for paddlesports. Launch areas and the river can contain abrasive hazards that can cut feet. Footwear that protects toes and can be walked in when wet is necessary. Flip-flops and sandals are not sufficient or appropriate.
  • Water: Bring water in bottles than can be secured to your boat. Bring more water than you expect to need and drink it throughout your paddling journey.


Trail History

In 1613, the English Sea Captain Samuel Argall sailed up the Potomac River and along the way, traded with Native Americans from the Powhatan tribe. During this time, relations between the Powhatans and the English were relatively poor. Captain Argall quickly learned that Pocahontas, the daughter of Chief Powhatan, was living with the Patawomeck tribe in Crow’s Nest. At the time, the Powhatan tribe were holding English prisoners captive. and Captain Argall devised that by kidnapping Pocahontas, he could negotiate an exchange for the English prisoners along with some weapons and farming tools the Powhatans had stolen. In April 1613, at the age of 19, Pocahontas was lured onto Captain Argall’s ship where she was detained.  The ship departed immediately, and Pocahontas remained in captive at Jamestown and then possibly Henrico, a small English settlement near present-day Richmond.

During her detainment, Pocahontas learned the English language, religion, and customs. She also met John Rolfe, and in April 1614, a year after her kidnapping, Pocahontas and John Rolfe married. To read more about Pocahontas’s life and legend, please visit the NPS Historic Jamestowne website.