Shenandoah Riverkeeper Releases Smartphone “Swim Guide” App

The Shenandoah Riverkeeper organization has released a smartphone app for IPhone and Android users designed to show people where to access the Shenandoah River and tributaries for swimming, fishing and boating. The App is free and is meant as a gift to the Shenandoah Valley Community from Award Winning Non-Profit Shenandoah Riverkeeper for nearly seven years of support.

For those with compatible phones, the free app will show users a map of the Valley with pins marking public access points along the North Fork, South Fork and Main Stem Shenandoah River. Search for “The Swim Guide” in the App store. Those without smart phones can just as easily access the resource from work or home at

July 4th tubing on Shenandoah River in Clarke County, Virginia – Photo Edward Leonard

Throughout the next few weeks and months, users will see even more locations added to the app, with photographs, GPS coordinates, and descriptions by Shenandoah Riverkeeper. The map pins are “hot” and can be selected for more detailed information. As of this press release, more than a dozen sites are already online. Our goal is to provide not only access information but also information about river floats, history, safety precautions, and eventually bacterial testing data.

The Shenandoah River is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world and flows through a valley that can only be described as stunning. Despite historic pollution issues in the Shenandoah Valley, the types of pollution have not normally been dangerous to recreational users (except for fish consumption). Estimates are that 250,000 to 500,000 people safely recreate on rivers in the Valley in each year. Unfortunately, many Valley residents are resistant to swimming and boating on Shenandoah.

The primary threat during river recreation is bacterial illness or infection. The majority of bacterial testing during the summer recreational period shows the Shenandoah River meets or exceeds criteria for swimming and fishing but significant exceptions do exist. Dedicated sources of daily or weekly testing are not available at this time like they are for beaches but if there is enough demand Shenandoah Riverkeeper will work with partners to develop a testing program.

Shenandoah Riverkeeper wants to promote safe use of the river and to encourage Valley residents to get back on the water and enjoy their local rivers and streams.

Shenandoah Riverkeeper is a program of Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Shenandoah Riverkeeper’s mission is to use citizen action and enforcement of clean water laws to protect and restore water quality in the Shenandoah River watershed for people, fish and aquatic life. Shenandoah Riverkeeper is located in Boyce, VA, and has over 400 members.


  1. The riverkeepers need to annotate that the falls on Tilthammer Mill Road is private property. There is legal speculation as to whether or not people can access them coming in from the river, but the land on either side is posted.

    I know both landowners on the west side of the falls and the one on the east side as well. None of them wanted to deprive anyone of access, but they got sick and tired of cleaning up the trash that was left behind. I won’t describe the trash. Let’s say some of it was just plain gross and leave it at that.

    And I’ll add that if I catch or see [redacted] that sicced a dog on my uncle because he kindly informed you that you were tresspassing, it’ll be a bad day for your dog, and maybe you as well.

    Sorry a few had to ruin it for everyone

    • Reid Welliver says:

      First off, if your friends are the one fixing up that house on the property between tiltahammer and the stream, they’ve done an excellent job, and kudos. It’s a shame that people trash such natural beauty, and every time I’ve been down there, I’ve tried to clean up garbage without infringing on anyone’s property rights. That being said, unless your friends’ property claim dates back to pre-1800s and specifically grants the streambed, the law is incredibly ambiguous as far as property claim goes. There are arguements for either side, but as long as the people in question gained legal entrance to the river, you’d have a hard time prosecuting them for standing in a streambed. Again though, I don’t think it should be on your friends to clean up the refuse left there, and that’s a real shame that people aren’t more respectful. Congratulations to them on that gorgeously remodeled home.

      • Yeah, he sank a lot of money into that place and is rightly proud of how it turned out. The guys he hired were to fix the place up were top notch.

        I believe you are correct about the streambeds in that no one owns them and therefore access to the falls can be gained coming off the river. But again, the land on either side is posted. And again, no one down there wanted to be a jerk about it really. In fact, my friend left the land unposted until recently, because when he bought the house he said he didn’t want to deny anyone access to such a nice place. But the trash and the boomboxes blaring until 0100 got to be too much.

        Some other things that people down there put up with include;

        Having people that are tresspassing to begin with having the nerve to come up and ask if they can use their bathrooms. And earlier this summer, a group of about 50 Mexicans came and basically moved in down there, going so far as to set up a grill in the middle of the road and then looked at cars that were driving by like they were crazy.

        That all goes to peacable enjoyment of your property, of which there is little down there when the place is overrun. Again, between all that, the trash and the piles of poo, I hope people can understand why it all came to an end.

  2. I’m a Kayaker and this information will be great! I typically put in under the rout 50 bridge and paddle down to Locks Landing. I’m off to check out the app Thanks River Keepers!!!

    Sarge, I have stopped by the falls you talk about (access from river) to take a photo or 2 and cool off in the ice cold water that comes from that creek. It’s an absolutely beautiful place, one of the coolest in the county. I have seen the no trespassing signs on the land and I would never access it from the land as it is posted and owned by someone that clearly doesn’t want anyone on their land.

    From the way I understand it no one owns waterways and tributary can be navigated on as the water is not actually part of the property. I may be wrong. Right or wrong, I will stay very clear of that area as I typically take my dog with me (in my kayak), I would not want my dog, myself or the occasional person I introduce to kayaking I have along with me to get shot.

    It’s too bad stopping at this beautiful spot along the Shenandoah is off limits and could possibly get someone hurt. The whole thing kinda makes me nervous about getting out of my boat anywhere along the river to stretch my legs.

    The River isn’t as friendly of a place to go these days. Last year, myself, one of my dogs and a friend was at Locks Landing boat ramp. My friend was sitting in a lawn chair way off to the side of the ramp and I was in the river with my young dog getting him use to swimming (on a 10’ Leash). Clarke County Sheriff’s department showed up, told us we had to leave if we wasn’t fishing or launching a boat. He made my friend and I pick up all the trash in the area which was clearly not ours before we left. I typically pick up the trash anyway but it was his attitude about the whole thing that rubbed me the wrong way. We weren’t drinking, not playing loud music (not playing music at all) or doing anything else to inhibit anyone’s access to the river or disrupting the peace. We were just trying to enjoy a nice day and cool off on a hot Sunday afternoon. I haven’t been back since except to take the kayaks out 1 time.

    • I don’t think any of the landowners have any problem at all with people like you. And I don’t think you’ll get shot down there, unless you do something aggressive.

      Needless to say, I was not amused at all that someone would sic a dog on someone just for telling them they are tresspassing. THAT is the type person that is not welcomed, and had that happened while I was there, that dog would have been shot.

      Most landowners don’t mind at all if you stop off and enjoy the view along the river. All they ask is that you observe the creed of the Appalachian Trial, “Leave no trace” .

      Unfortunately, the landowners have taken out bags and bags of trash and have come close to stepping in a couple of piles of human ****.

      That’s what got the place posted

    • As always, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch, so please, don’t take it personally and still enjoy your time on the river. You indeed sound like a respectful person but there are many that are not.

      For myself and I’m sure many others have had bad experiences at the river access points. One couple was so intimated by a group that was already under Rt 7 Bridge they finally ended up leaving and left for Lock’s. Just to find insufficient parking there and had to wait quite a while.

      And, I really didn’t take it that Sarge would lay in waiting for anyone with a dog, just the one that with such a low mentality to turn their dog toward his uncle, the property owner.

      More than often I enjoy the river but have to “watch” what/who is around me but sadly that’s just the time we live in now.

      Hope the app works for those who need it.

  3. First thing I though from Sarge’s comment is my dog would either get shot or stuck in a trap. In that event he may as well shoot me as I would turn into a not so respectable person. I have plans on kayaking this weekend but I think Ill go up above Front Royal. Folks up there seem to be a bit more relaxed…

    Havnt tried the app but the web site is nice!!! Good Wok River Keepers…

  4. i downloaded the app and found the following results for Clarke County
    Two spots: “Locke’s Landing” and “Berry’s Ferry”, as well as two dozen other spots or more along the river.
    They are all categorized as “Gray” meaning,”reliable water quality information is unavailable”

  5. Bob Brawley says:

    I go splashing around in the potomac north of Blue Plains treatment plant and the water doesn’t bother me and the quality has to be worst than the Shandoe, Right? decades ago I was facinated by the stream of Coke Cola flowing out to the water at Ocean Beach, SC I din’t take a glass slide and a microscope with me to the beach to you take one to the river?