Do not put on this class 5 creek unless you are committed to running one of the biggest runnable waterfalls in West Virginia. Portaging the falls looks nearly impossible, but could be attempted high on river right. Wood on this creek is a frightening prospect because most of the creek is fast moving and boxed in Just scouting the falls is extremely dangerous since the rock is so slick, but very necessary, as it can collect wood. Once you run the drop at the confluence its very difficult to get out of the creek.
Starting at Jordan Run Road, the creek flows for 200 yards of Class 2 but beware of at least two fences. better yet, put in at the first drop, because you scouted it, right? The first drop is a walled in 8 foot sloping ledge that is easily run but gets a big hole at high water. If you scrape at all over this drop, the creek is too low to run, and the waterfall downstream will be dangerous. Directly below this drop is the confluence with Big Run. Big Run falls is a gnarly 20-30 foot reconnecter yet to be run. below here the creek leaves the depressing put in scenery and enters paradise, but don't be distracted. Some fast class 3 boogie leads without much warning into a gorged in rapid with 3 sizable ledge holes. These holes would be difficult to punch at high water and you can forget about recovering equipment if a swim occurred. Once through this section, be on the lookout for Jordan Run Falls, which comes up without much warning. There is a 2-3 boat eddy on river right 30 feet upstream of the lip, and a micro eddy right at the lip. The creek again walls up and pinches through a narrow slot and over a 25-30 foot falls. The water hitting the right bank at the lip folds over the main flow, reconnecting near the bottom. At higher levels you can ride this curler and launch a sweet boof. At lower medium flows the line is less obvious. There is a sizable pocket on the left, and a shelf/pock on the bottom right. under or behind the curtain the waterfall hits on a boulder on the left. The pool past the boulder is very deep. Get some speed and try to launch out into the center of the pool as best you can.
The remainder of the run is fun Class 3 with some gorgeous rock formations. Right above the takeout at Smoke Hole Caverns is a 5 foot ledge.
Check out this video of the run and the falls:
The Cabins gauge on the North Fork of the South Branch should be 5000 cfs or more to run this creek.
Permits are not required for this reach.
The takeout is at Smokehole Caverns along Rt. 28/55. From the takeout, head toward Seneca Rocks. After a few miles, turn right on Jordan Run Road. Follow that up the mountain and to the right until you reach the creek. There is not much parking if any at the putin bridge. Some paddlers have been parking near Big run and putting in at the 1st drop on Jordan.
Jordan Run Falls
Approach to Jordan Run Falls
Bobby Miller at Jordan Run Falls
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Nancy Kell, a very experienced Mid-States kayaker, died on February 24th after flipping in a Class II rapid on West Virginia's Red Creek. There were a number of strainers in the vicinity above and below the water. One of them snagged her tow tether, pulled her out of her boat, and held her under water. She was with a very experienced crew but they could not reach her quickly enough. Equipment snags are a real risk. In the light of this accident I strongly urge anyone using a cowtail, pigtail, or tow tether to recheck your setup, and to consider whether wearing a tow tether makes sense. Be certain that your tether releases cleanly at both ends. Do not attach the front carabiner to a non-releasable point, like a pocket or strap. Ms. Kell did this, and it may have been a contributing factor. Apparently many current rescue PFD designs to not feature a front release point! Do not attach a tether to the rear of your PFD with a non-locking carabiner, as that may inadvertently clip into a rope. The tether should fit very snugly, without sagging, but as the photo shows Ms. Kell did that, and it did not protect her! The harness release should be quick and foolproof. Practice harness releases under pressure before using it on the river. Finally, remember that any additional strap is a potential snag hazard. Ask yourself if the usefulness of a tow tether is worth the risk, especially on small, strainer infrested creeks. Carry it in a PFD pocket or dry bag if necessary. Click for a link to the report in the AW Accident Database. (Jeff Macklin Photo)
Get your groove on baby! This year Gauley Fest is a 60’s themed event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. To memorialize that historic event we are flashing back to another era for a 60’s throwdown. Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world.
American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River. Enjoy your paddling season on this classic whitewater river. As in past years, American Whitewater has leased the field above Masons Branch, also known as the Legg field, for overflow parking.
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flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!