February 22, 2018

Fish Trap River Access, Shenandoah River

Shenandoah River State Park

This morning I had an appointment in Front Royal, and afterward I bought a salad at Martins and took it to the state park for a quiet lunch. Almost no one was there, as it was a chilly and cloudy day. I ate in the car and then walked through a picnic area down to the river.

I found steps leading to the river at the "Fish Trap River Access." I've read about the fish traps in a guide for boaters on the Shenandoah. These traps are rock dams utilized by Native Americans who built fish weirs of rocks and branches, which slowed the movement of fish so that they could be easily speared, or even scooped up into a basket.

Archaeological evidence has shown that Paleo-Indians excavated jasper and crafted arrowheads in this area over 10,000 years ago! They probably returned to the river every spring to fish.

Most fish traps were partially removed to facilitate commerce back when the Shenandoah was used as a highway for moving goods, which was seasonal because often the river is too low for even a flat boat.

Shenandoah River State Park is open year-round, even when Skyline Drive in the mountains above it is closed. There is a small entrance fee, worth paying even if all you do is look at the view from Cullers Overlook. But come down to the river too!


  1. That is cool. I have read that the native Americans worked the land actively. I've read some things about the infrastructure they built on the gulf coast and some of the things they did in the Yellowstone Park area that are amazing. I love these fish traps.

  2. Love that last shot. Have a great weekend.

  3. hard to imagine we were not the first to live somewhere, but 10,000 years is amazing.

  4. I've heard of similar techniques used by some indigenous tribes here.

  5. A beautiful area. Yes, the natives would have wisely used every resource.

  6. That's a beautiful view of the river. Interesting information about the fish traps.

  7. So beautiful area.. love the little history..


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