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Difficulty III-V
Length 7.345 Miles
Gauge BLACKWATER RIVER AT DAVIS, WV
Flow Range 250 - 1200 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 295 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/03/2018 1:05 pm

River Description


Keel Hauler Rating - 32

From the top, gradient by mile is:
144
127
90
101
71
121
50

Put-in 2 mi downstream the North Fork from Thomas past the town of Coketon. Park here, walk 3/4 mi on rail-trail past North Fork Falls. Put-in from an extremely steep goat trail just below the confluence of the Upper Blackwater and North Fork.
Takeout at the AW takeout on the right side of the Black Fork just downstream of the confluence of the Blackwater and Dry Fork in Hendricks.

Mark Anderson adds a description of the run.
- The rapids begin immediately at the putin, so take a breather after the long carry in before launching. The first few rapids are nice technical boulder drops. Then you come to Krakatoa.
- Krakatoa is a sloping ledge into a mean hole followed by a second ledge. Scout this on the left. At lower flows the first ledge can be run left/center with left angle and the second can be boofed off a center shelf. At higher flows, the first ledge hole is harder to clear and the hole feeds undercuts on either side.
- Boof or Consequences (a.k.a. The Ledge or The Boof). This is not far downstream of Krakatoa. Most of the river is constricted over a 5-foot-ish ledge in the center of the river. Scout this as well. Boof the right corner into a right eddy. The pourover created in this drop literally spits sprays of water from the hole.
- Rock & Roll. This follows after some boat-scoutable drops. It is easy to scout this on the right by taking out just above the congested and blind entrance. There is a lot going on in this rapid and it's steeper than it looks, but there's more than one way to approach it. The rocks at the constriction at the bottom are undercut.
- The Slide. On down the river there is a long low-angle slide that goes on for a couple hundred feet with flow that shifts from left to right. Be sure to skirt the big hole at the bottom.
- The Waterfall. Midway through the run there's a 12-or-so-foot sloping waterfall with numerous lines and numerous junky spots. The left and center area seems to be easiest to navigate. There's vertical far right line where the flow lands on a rock shelf.
- Other Notes: People complain about the carry in, but the final 2 flat miles once the gorge widens out seems worse to me. There's plenty of Class IV fun in between the descriptions above. At lower flows there are inconvenient rocks in almost every rapid. At higher flows, there are several places where a boof will make the day go more smoothly.
AW Access Director Jason Robertson's directions and editorial comments:
Heading upriver from Parsons/Davis, turn right at the Hedricks (no-"n") store in Hendricks (with- "n"). Go to the end of the street (3 blocks) and park to left of foot bridge over river.
Heading downriver from the confluence, turn at the first left after the bridge, go to end of street and bear right at the "L", drive to end of street at next "L" will see parking area on left and foot bridge on left.
The site is in dire need of repair. Needs to be mowed/bush-hogged. The change room sidewalls were kicked out by some hoods 2 years ago and have not been repaired.

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Mark Anderson
|
13 years ago

Just a little description here of the run for those who might be looking for such details:

- The rapids begin immediately at the putin, so take a breather after the long carry in before launching. The first few rapids are nice technical boulder drops. Then you come to Krakatoa.

- Krakatoa is a sloping ledge into a mean hole followed by a second ledge. Scout this on the left. At lower flows the first ledge can be run left/center with left angle and the second can be boofed off a center shelf. At higher flows, the first ledge hole is harder to clear and the hole feeds undercuts on either side.

- Boof or Consequences (a.k.a. The Ledge or The Boof). This is not far downstream of Krakatoa. Most of the river is constricted over a 5-foot-ish ledge in the center of the river. Scout this as well. Boof the right corner into a right eddy. The pourover created in this drop literally spits sprays of water from the hole.

- Rock & Roll. This follows after some boat-scoutable drops. It is easy to scout this on the right by taking out just above the congested and blind entrance. There is a lot going on in this rapid and it's steeper than it looks, but there's more than one way to approach it. The rocks at the constriction at the bottom are undercut.

- The Slide. On down the river there is a long low-angle slide that goes on for a couple hundred feet with flow that shifts from left to right. Be sure to skirt the big hole at the bottom.

- The Waterfall. Midway through the run there's a 12-or-so-foot sloping waterfall with numerous lines and numerous junky spots. The left and center area seems to be easiest to navigate. There's vertical far right line where the flow lands on a rock shelf.

Other Notes: People complain about the carry in, but the final 2 flat miles once the gorge widens out seems worse to me. There's plenty of Class IV fun in between the descriptions above. At lower flows there are inconvenient rocks in almost every rapid. At higher flows, there are several places where a boof will make the day go more smoothly.

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Nori Onishi
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12 years ago

The tree in lower blackwater is back again. After all the big rapids there was a tree on a drop that has a huge boulder in the middle. Old one flushed out two years ago but there was a new on on July 8 2006. This tree is only constricting the right side and left side is wide open.

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Chris Preperato
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7 years ago

A few things to update from several runs in 2011.
In the lead in to Rock and Roll, the current bounces off a boulder and turns right. There are a few annoying F-U rocks in there, especially below 400cfs, and they can put you sideways into an inconvenient hole.

As for Rock and Roll itself, two main lines I've run. All the way down the right is fairly straight-forward, and then the left line involves a series of tight turns. At low flows, its a narrow line with lots of piton/head impact risk, but in the 4-450 range its a really fun line.

Left out of Mark's description is a rapid in between Rock and Roll and the Slide that deserves a look your first time down. You'll run an easier rapid after rock and roll, and then there will be a BIG boulder on the right with the current channeling left. Its essentially a broken off-angle drop in an L shape. The right side falls off early into a crease, and the left side lands on a junky rock ledge. About 20yds downstream is a pretty nasty pocket hole on the left that is easy to avoid on the right when you are upright. A boater who flips in the top ledge almost always ends up in that hole though, which can be tough to surf out of. I've run it all 3 ways, and finding the middle line to be ideal ideal, but the left side is definitely the junkiest of the routes, especially in the 3-400cfs range.

As for wood, there is one log that is probably the same spot as Nori mentioned in 2006. It's about a mile after the Slide in one of the many boulder garden rapids. You can see it early enough to avoid it to the left. There is also a tree on the far left at the Waterfall, but, its not really in the way of the left line. The center line is more fun anyway.

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Scott Anderson
|
6 years ago

There is still some wood in the Lower Blackwater, but as of March 15, 2013 everything is passable with caution.

Gage Descriptions

Blackwater USGS Gauge

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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.

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Date Flow Result Factor  
1989-03-25 Medium Fatality Cold Water Read More

Alerts

   

News

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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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Blackwater Canyon Trail Protected (WV)

2010-08-02 00:00:00-04
Kevin Colburn

On July 26, 2010, the US Forest Service decided not to allow long term logging access on the trail through Blackwater Canyon.  This decision follows nearly a decade of analysis and public debate, and will protect the ability of hikers, skiers, and bikers to enjoy the historic railroad grade that winds through the scenic Blackwater Canyon.

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COMMENTS NEEDED: Road through Blackwater Canyon Proposed (WV)

2002-12-04 00:00:00-05
Jason Robertson

197thumb.jpg The USFS has received a request from a logging company to grant access on the existing railroad grade to facilitate logging in the Blackwater Canyon. Your comments are needed to protect pedestrian access for boaters, ensure that the road is repaired, and to reduce siltation from the erosive impacts of the road. A sample letter is attached.
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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.
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Matt Muir

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Tony Allred Jr