Big Sandy Creek - 2. Bruceton Mills to Rockville

Big Sandy Creek, West Virginia, US


2. Bruceton Mills to Rockville (Upper Big Sandy)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 5.8 Miles
Avg. Gradient 29 fpm
Max Gradient 50 fpm

Falkenstein Falls

Falkenstein Falls
Photo of Bruce Fleckenstein taken 05/01/05

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03070500 5.75 - 7.50 ft III-IV 00h26m 7.64 ft (too high)

River Description

This is an easier alternative to the Lower Big Sandy. It can be combined with the Lower Big Sandy for those who'd like a longer day, or for groups that have some people who'd like to taste some of the ledgy Big Sandy action without taking on the Big Stuff that the Lower Big Sandy is famous for. A similar run is the Little Sandy.

The character of the run is similar to the Little Sandy: lots of ledges, some of which are blind or semi-blind. It gets more difficult toward the end, with a blind rapid which many paddlers scout. The last rapid before the Rockville bridge is most difficult, giving a taste of what the Lower Big Sandy is about.

Directions: The putin is easy to find; just take the Route 26 exit off of I-68. You can park in the large Little Sandy's parking lot and put in at the back of the parking lot.
To the Rockville takeout: Head south from Bruceton Mills (I-68) or north from Albright on WV 26 to Valley Point (just about 6 miles from either direction). Look for the turn-off to Hudson Road (WV 15), take it west for 4.8 miles, and turn right down towards the river. Continue another couple miles (bear left at the next fork) to the bridge across the river. This access ends with a mile of rutty, muddy road to the Rockville Bridge and parking is limited on busy weekends. Those who don't have good 4WD often carry or drag their boats down to the bridge.
See the Lower Big Sandy for directions to the Jenkinsburg takeout, if you're up for the beeeg rapids.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2008-07-26 17:46:46

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 8 2016 (952 days ago)
Charles WalbridgeDetails
In the first major rapid below Bruceton Mills WATCH OUT for the huge rock in the center which is
VERY UNDERCUT. The chutes to each side are DANGEROUS! Two people had close calls here this past
weekend; one guy lost his pasddle; the second guy dislodged it the next day. Run far right.
August 31 2013 (1933 days ago)
Steve KroserDetails
The rock described by ellems below is not only undercut on the right, it is also sieved out in the
middle. Treat this rock with utmost caution!
October 10 2012 (2258 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
FYI, the last rapid on the upper Big Sandy, just above the bridge at Rockville, is usually run best
on the left side. The far right requires a lot of water to avoid the "abusive" label, and I got
fairly beaten up just right of center, the other day, too. The left side is definitely easier,
unless you just love to slam rocks.
September 1 2011 (2663 days ago)
stratford douglasDetails
You should ignore Robert Farmer's second comment below (the 4/22/11 one, not the one about the
waste dump plan). The statement that the confluence rapid is the very first one is completely
inaccurate. There are about a half dozen class II+ rapids on the Big Sandy above the mouth of the
Little Sandy, one Class III, and many of lesser difficulty. The "miles of flatwater" statement is
also misleading. The flat water section of the Upper Big Sandy is somewhat longer than the flat
water section of the Little Sandy, but I'd say it's only about 1.5 times as long, the scenery is
pretty once you leave the interstate, and once the rapids start they are quite continuous. The
difficulty builds slowly, which makes it nice as a confidence builder for a person with Class
II-III skills. I often take Class III paddler friends down the Upper BS who are looking for
something lively but not too intimidating. Like Robert, I prefer the Little Sandy to the Upper BS,
and I agree that the Little Sandy is a bit more difficult, more interesting, and more fun than the
Upper BS, but there is plenty of II+ fun on the Upper BS above the Little Sandy.
June 10 2011 (2746 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
A massive oil and gas waste landfill is planned for the the Big Sandy at the confluence with the
Little Sandy. Check it out, and voice your opposition, please! Go to Send letters to: Preston County Solid
Waste Authority c/o Mr. Fred Taylor 118 Lick Run Rd. Newburg, WV 26410 and also Preston County
Commission 106 W Main Street, Room 202 Kingwood, WV 26537
May 20 2011 (2767 days ago)
Jkfallin (152844)
Above 7 feet at falkenstein run left for two easy boofs, or right for more complex ledges and
holes. After that the only thing to watch for is the tree that is down across the right side. It
apparently just changed and split in two, the safest bet is the small channel on far left, you can
cut over after passing a little bushy island. The rapid above Rockville bridge is not difficult,
just be ready to eddy out at the bottom for your takeout (the surf wave at the bottom can be
enticing) Its split into three channels at high water-- go right for easiest, left or center just a
little more complex. At lower water go with the center channel heading right.
April 22 2011 (2795 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
If you do the Little Sandy, you enter the Upper Big Sandy about 100 feet below the first
rapid/ledge, so you miss only one pretty much insignificant rapid, unless you want to carry
upstream and do it. (I'm not sure how feasible that is.) This avoids miles of flatwater on the
Upper BS. (The Little Sandy is much more exciting/interesting than the upper Upper BS.) But the
flatwater is nice, too, sometimes, if you like that sort of thing. . .
February 22 2009 (3584 days ago)
tucker deloachDetails
spam removed
June 5 2008 (3846 days ago)
ellenms (148639)
More detail on the undercut described above. This is located at the first ledge drop and is above
the confluence with the Little Sandy. There is a bus-sized boulder on river left to center and the
undercut is on the right side of this boulder next to the main channel of water.
September 24 2002 (5927 days ago)
There is some great surfing and playing on this run in the 7+ foot range. Awesome waves to be had!!

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