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Difficulty I-II(III)
Length 11 Miles
Flow Range 230 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 29 minutes ago 206 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 06/03/2018 1:05 pm

River Description

This is one of the most beautiful stretches of stream anywhere! From the moment you puton until the time you reach Davis, you are almost in complete solitude. There are some traces of human influence occassionally but the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. The last 2-3 miles are paralleled by a back road out of Davis and are quite popular with fisherman.
The creek is mostly flat but remains swift with occassional Class 1 riffles and good current throughout. The scenery is breathtaking! Since if flows through a wildlife preserve, you are likely to see lots of animals on your float. Near the end of the run, the bottom changes from sand to rock and Class 1-2 rapids begin to form. This stretch is quite fun. Watch out for the 10 foot dam near Davis. Portage on the right.
There is a whole system of similar "marsh" streams that feed into the Blackwater that are also runable. With all these miles to explore, your energy will run out before the scenery does!

Rapid Descriptions


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Brian perkins
1 year ago

We ran this today and it was a bit bony. In the morning the gauge was reading just below the minimum level of 230 cfs. At the end of the run it was running at 160 cfs. We put in at the end of Beall road at cortland. There is a several hundred foot portage to the river from the parking area. It isn't too bad since it is mostly flat and downhill. It is a little rocky and shallow at the minimum level at the start. I would suggest a minimum level of 300 or so. Most of the float had adequate water. The river is flat and slow moving most of the float. It took us about 6.5 hours to float to the Davis water supply dam from Cortland. The scenery is great and the river is very remote. There are only two or three river wide logs blocking the river. The are several logs partially blocking the river which you can float around. After the fishing pier be aware of the rapids, especially after the power line. There is a 3' convex slide at this lower level with no real good place to run it. After this there is big drop where the river drops about 6' in a short distance. See someone's photo already posted. We portaged this class three rapid. There are two large rocks in the middle of the rapid which make it difficult to run in a canoe in low water levels.

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Justin Sharick
8 years ago

This is a fun float when it's running, but the full trip takes quite awhile to complete due to the length and twisting nature of the flats. If you want to cut out the flatwater and just float the faster stuff, then simply put on at the end of Camp 70 Road and float into town. You could even run shuttle with a bicycle this way. The rapids going into town are a lot of fun!

Gage Descriptions

230 cfs is about the minimum for the top part. It has a rock bottom in the first few miles and the last few miles. You could possibly float this stretch lower but the beginning and end would be scrapy. Since it is mostly flatwater, you could run this part as high as you feel comfortable. The last rapids stretch could reach Class 3 with good water.


Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.


No Accident Reports



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9th Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival & Tim Gavin Downriver race

2007-04-19 00:00:00-04
Ben Van Camp

For nine years now, the paddling community of the greater Harpers Ferry, WV area has hosted a kayak race/festival in memory of Tim Gavin.  Tim was a resident, friend, and avid paddler who lost his life in a kayaking accident in March of 1998 on the UpperBlackwaterRiver in WestVA.  This year the event takes place on June 16th, 2007
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(WV) Fly Fishermen Fear Blackwater is Endangered

2001-08-23 00:00:00-04
Jason Robertson

446thumb.jpgAmerican Whitewater listed the Blackwater River in our Top 40 River issues in 1998, 1999, and 2000, based on concerns about logging and development. Now, another national recreation and conservation organization, the Federation of Fly Fishers, has added the Blackwater to their list too.
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Tow Tether Danger Highlighted by Recent Accident

2019-02-25 19:53:07-05
Charlie Walbridge

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)


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Gauley Fest - September 13-16, 2018 - Summersville, WV

2018-09-04 07:58:00-04
Mark Singleton

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.

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2018 Letter To Gauley Boaters From The NPS (WV)

2018-08-21 10:07:00-04
Mark Singleton

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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Cheat Canyon Settlement Reached; Land Set Aside for Endangered Species

2007-02-13 00:00:00-05
Charles Walbridge

After two years of intense negotiations an agreement reached to protect endangered species in the Cheat River Canyon. Allegheny Wood Products acquired roughly 5,000 acres in the Cheat Canyon below Albright, WV in 2003 for $9.75 million. When they began building roads and cutting trees the following year the government took no steps to enforce the Endangered Species Act. A lawsuit was filed in 2005 by Friends of Blackwater Canyon, the WV Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Cheat Lake Environmental and Recreational Association. Although American Whitewater was not a party to the litigation we are gratified that an agreement was reached and commend both parties for their efforts.

Robert Miller


Tony Allred Jr