One of Heritage Estates’ most picturesque aspects is the New River. Designated as a National Wild and Scenic River in 1976, the New River is considered by naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts as a hard won national treasure. Two units of the New River State Park between West Jefferson and the Virginia border anchor efforts to protect and make available this legacy in the public interest.
Kayaking on, fishing in, or just looking at the gloriously beautiful upper part of the valley of the South Fork of the New River is what makes Heritage Estates’ setting just about perfect. Putting a kayak in the river at our Common Area’s gazebo provides a peaceful two hour float. Most days of the paddling season you are likely to see more wildlife than other humans. And, whereas the area just upstream of Heritage Estates has a number of low water bridges, the two hour float downstream is free of those hazards.
Best of all the float downstream from Heritage Estates allows you to take out at Elk Shoals, arguably the one of the most VALUABLE AND ATTRACTIVE NATURAL AREAS in this part of the New River Basin. The rocky shoals and their sand beach have been a local recreation spot for more than a century. There are threatened and endangered species on the property, such as plants like the Virginia Spiraea, Seep Mudalia and Spherical Bulb Nodding Moss. In the river’s waters, Spike Mussels have been found, along with species endemic to the New River, like the Kanawha Minnow and Kanawha Darters, which are found nowhere else on Earth.
Elk Shoals Camp, with its stunning set of rocky rapids and a natural sand beach, has been held (and its beach area generously shared with the public) these last 60 years by Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Now, in 2018, the New River Conservancy is close to purchasing and presenting Elk Shoals to New River State Park as their upstream most unit of the serial park’s holdings.
This new unit of New River State Park would make Elk Shoals the uppermost of nine public access points and four campgrounds forming a four days and three night float downstream to the Virginia border – an exemplary kayak run contiguous with, and supplementing the pleasure of our access to the river at Heritage Estates.
New River Conservancy has not yet achieved their goal – HELP SAVE ELK SHOALS!