Occoquan Reservoir, Fountainhead Regional Park, VA – Nov 12, 2012

Two months into ownership, five trips out to five different locations and we are enjoying our Hobie kayak completely.  We also feel getting the “tandem” was the right choice as it equalizes out our abilities and we are in it together.  I am never ruling out that we might get singles someday but for now, the tandem was exactly the right choice as we are doing it together.

We have trailering and launching recovering down and it takes us about 10 mins on either side of arrival or departure to be ready to go. The quality of the kayak and associated equipment ensures we are having no issues with the kayak itself for now.  We recently purchased an accessory (bigger dry tub) that fits in one of our 8” dry hatches that allows us to carry all of the things that we do not want to get wet easily.

Today we launched out of Fountainhead Regional Park in Woodbridge as we wanted to go out on the Occoquan Reservoir for the first time.  The weather was going to be partly cloudy, light breeze, and the last day of warm temps (high 60’s) before a cold front came through the next day.

It would be our first test for our Fall/Spring paddling gear, a NRS farmer John/Jane wetsuit which we found on sale and Hydroskins shirts for each us. For our feet, we have NRS Water shoes.  With the water temps approaching 50 degrees, you have to dress for the water temps not the air temps.  While expensive Gore-tex dry suits are an option, we do not feel like we will go out in winter conditions.  We essentially will confine our cooler weather paddling to flat water on perfect weather days and just need a wetsuit to keep us warm and protect us if we were to capsize to get back in or get back to shore.

No longer bare beat and swin suits; now wetsuits and wet shoes

The gear worked well, even on this unusually warm Nov day (69 degrees), and we feel we could easily paddle in a 45- 50 degree air day comfortably. There is a nice launch site at the park, equipped with a ranger station, restrooms, nice rubber mats leading into the water for kayaks, and an ample parking area up a short steep hill. We parked at the top, loaded the kayak up and put it on its wheels and braked it as we rolled it down to the water.  We paid a $3.50 launching fee and pushed off into the reservoir which gets deep right off shore, making using the Hobie fins easy.

Taking flight

We headed west into calm water across the reservoir at its broadest and headed up stream. We noticed a lot of leave, branches, and small logs floating by as we made our way across the water near an old bridge with a warning sign posted on it to keep your distance.  We also noticed yellow mile marker signs along the shore marking the Occoquan Water Trail.


Turned out we would pass two of them and almost a third, making our round trip peddle about 4.5-5 miles, our longest so far. There is actually still color in some trees into November in Virginia so the scenery along the bank was pleasant, mostly wooded with an occasional house and pier coming into view.

Old dam

We saw a couple of fishermen out along the inlets and kept steady progress westward for about 45 mins. We rounded a major bend in the river and I picked a distant point to make our turn around point and we almost reached it before we both decided, “ok, let’s make the turn now”.  The route map shows the approximate track we took. There is not much current in this section of water and a 10 mph wind kept shifting on us so we were never really sure when the easiest portion of the peddle were but as we came back around the bend in the river it was obvious we would have steady pedaling all the way back.  We passed one serious kayaker on the way back making his way up stream and two kayakers who appeared out for the first time.  We exchanged greetings and we heard the wife tell her husband, “look they are peddling not paddling, now that is something I would like to do…”  🙂

Two kayakers

We also ran into two fishermen (one on the water and one taking out at the launch) who described their interest in peddling vice paddling and the guy at the launch said he has had two Hobies in the past.

Arriving back at the launch we recovered and got loaded up and stopped for a takeout lunch on the way home after burning some calories.

Normally this would be the end of the trip report, but I thought it is also useful to share what happens when we arrive home.  We really like our decision to buy a used kayak Trailex Trailer after exploring and even buying pieces of a roof rack for our Outback.  We decided after much discussion that we did not want to leave a lot of carrier stuff hanging off our car; I did not relish the idea of putting a 100 lb 14.6’ kayak on the roof every time we wanted to go although there are options to make it easier than it sounds.  Anyway, we decided on a trailer and we never lift the kayak more than 24” off the ground to load or unload it.  I can easily move it around the land at home by hand and we park it in the garage ready to hook up to the car and take off in 10 minutes anytime we want to go.

Rinsing and drying things off with Tucker supervising

After a trip, I roll the kayak on the trailer over to the grass, and wash it with soap and water and allow it to dry.  I rinse off all equipment with fresh water and let it dry.  Now with wetsuits, they take some time to dry when wet so we will have to hang them up if it is a nice day; wet shoes make take a few days to dry out.  At any rate, having the trailer makes it easy to wash the kayak, move it around and store it with the kayak never leaving the trailer, saving your back.  🙂

Cleaning it on the trailer


The cold front did come in after I wrote this but we hope to get out with our daughter over Thanksgiving if the weather is good.   We also want to launch from Occoquan Regional Park farther east and explore the lower Occoquan near I95 next and then on to Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge.

Beta:  RT  4.5 – 5 miles, 2 hours