The Nottoway River stretches for 155 miles across southeastern Virginia from its Piedmont headwaters in Prince Edward and Lunenburg counties to its entry into the Chowan River along the state line in Southampton County. Near the fall line, exposed rocks form Class I and II rapids during periods of higher flow. At 1.1 million acres, the Nottoway sub-basin is the Chowan's largest. Nearly 55 percent of its land is forested, 10 percent is wetlands, and 19 percent is farmland.
The Nottoway watershed supports diverse populations of freshwater mussels, including several rare varieties, and more than 90 fish species. It is considered one of the most intact Piedmont/Coastal Plain river systems of its size in the southeastern United States. Cactus Hill, located along the river shoreline in Sussex County, is a nationally significant archaeological site containing 16,000 year old human artifacts, among the oldest documented in the United States. Fort Pickett, a 41,000 acre Army National Guard reservation situated along the Nottoway near Blackstone, is the largest block of federally owned land in the Chowan Basin. Like the Meherrin, the Nottoway is named for the area's native Iroquois inhabitants.