Bluestone - 1. Spanishburg to Eads Mill

Bluestone, West Virginia, US


1. Spanishburg to Eads Mill

Usual Difficulty I-III (for normal flows)
Length 10.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm
Max Gradient 40 fpm

runnin the dam

runnin the dam
Photo of Mike Surbaugh by John Duke taken 05/10/03

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03179000 4.50 - 10.00 ft I-III 00h18m 4.73 ft (running)

River Description

From the put-in at the confluence of Rich Creek in Spanishburg there is a 3.3 mile paddle of class 1 water to a breached dam. The dam is runnable on the right and with permission paddlers may put in here. The last mile above the Eads Mill bridge has the most gradient(40'/mile) and two of the rapids in this section are named. Bear Claw which is sloping ledge with an undercut shelf sticking out from river right and Gwinns which is just above the Eads Mill bridge and contains an undercut cliff face on river left. Camp Creek enters from river left just above this rapid.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-05-21 12:40:05

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.
March 22 2015 (1126 days ago)
chrismlan (156552)
Just did Spanishburg to Bluestone lake. Used a 14 ft raft with 4 paddlers. The Mill Dam Rd put in
we were told by a local that they didnt think they knew of a put in. So we went about a mile down
to 8780-8846 Beckley Rd Spanishburg‎ West Virginia‎ 25922 United States This adds a lot of flat
non-current water. Not great for a raft, but a canoe or kayak might be worth the no-hassle put in
off a concrete bridge. The water was running 5.5 ft (I think approx 1500 CFS). Once we hit Mill Dam
rapid it started moving a little bit more. The Mill Dam rapid a gentleman on the shore told us to
take the right fork in, in a raft hugged the right drop of the dam, was about 6 ft drop , then
hugged the right shore to avoid a big rock river center. I suggest any rafts going at 6 ft or
higher. I also suggest the Eads Mill put-in even though you will miss Mill Dam rapid. Spanishburg
to Bluestone lake takeout took us about 7 hours at this water level with no stops. The last 10 or
so miles are all lake and took constant paddling. I'd say 20 miles of this 30 mile stretch was flat
water. Maybe 10 or 12 with good raft water. Take this in stride as I'm not great with distance on
such a switch-back river. The Pipestem takeout would be ideal if the tram is running. No rafts
below 5 ft I'd recommend. The locals in Hinton/Pipestem seemed to think we were crazy for running
at this water level. However, after research and talking with a nearby outfitter decided we could.
For us (consider ourselves class III-IV with the crew we had) this water level was very manageable,
and ran "blind" reading the rapids as we went, no scouting was necessary for us as we could see
down just far enough. The Eads Mill rapid (before the bridge there) had a rooster tail in the
center. We went right to avoid it. It's a long trip with lots of paddling in a paddle boat!
May 2 2012 (2180 days ago)
Andrea JonesDetails
Re: Mill Dam Rd. It is very important to get permission to put in here. Permission is easy to get,
but GET IT! Otherwise you risk having your car towed. Bear Claw is aptly named due to the shape of
the major undercut on river right. What isn't clear in prev descriptions is that the rapid starts
with about a ¼ - ½ mile of long, sloping, river-wide ledges. The river widens and gets shallower.
The ledges feed most of the water to the river right side and a smaller portion to river left. Most
of the ledges have some kind of hydraulic at the bottom to stop your boat - which could be a
problem with more water. The last drop is a 5 - 7 foot broken drop into a funky hole. This
riverwide hole is broken up by a large sloping piece of rock in the center that barely had water
covering it at about 1300 cfs/6 ft. If you are on river right, you have about 2 - 3 boat lengths
before a paddler is spoon-fed into the undercut. River left drops you into a large eddy and a good
place to photo the carnage. After we ran the rapid and got a very close look at the undercut, my
recommendation is that once you get to the long, sloping ledges do everything in your power to stay
river center or river left. This is not an easy thing to do because all of the current is moving to
the right and its shallower in the center, the ledges are barely covered at 1300 cfs/6 ft, and
there is barely a boat's length between each ledge. If possible, you will want to run the final
drop on river left. It's a little bony, but way preferable to the alternative. If you have an
"out-of-boat" experience in this rapid, the paddler should swim / move towards river left and let
the boat and gear go. A flip or a swim in the last drop could be deadly. I would definitely call
this rapid a class III rapid with class IV-V consequences - sort-of like a much longer Dimple Rock
on the Lower Yough but with a decapitation ledge about head height. Do not take this rapid lightly.
March 25 2010 (2949 days ago)
Paul JohnsonDetails
The directions here are wrong
April 23 2009 (3285 days ago)
x (1)
The trick is to catch the blusetone between 8 to 10 feet. Then it starts to get some size, the
slack water disappears, and the wahoo meter moves closer to the redline. The downward pressure on
the rating scale, rating this 1 to 3 [probably done by some self impressed, young surfer dude at
low water] does no one any good in terms of actually figuring out whats going on with the river.
Those who hold to the creed "If you're not on the edge, your taking up too much room", generally
don't boat much past the age of 35. No, the Bluestone is not the Banzai Pipeline of rivers, but it
has the potential of being a nice afternoon in Hossegor.
May 4 2007 (4005 days ago)
chad lesterDetails
Ran the upper bluestone on 5/4/07 , it was running 6.89 . Lots of class 2+ 3 rapids . At this level
the undercut at Bear Claw is under water . But the current will still push you right up next to
where the undercut is so becareful . Below the cabin on river left to the bridge rapids class 3+,
and is the best part of the run .

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