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Difficulty I-III
Length 10.5 Miles
Flow Range 4.50 - 10.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 18 minutes ago 4.65 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/21/2014 12:40 pm

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.

Rapid Descriptions


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chad lester
11 years ago

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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Paul A. Johnson
9 years ago

The directions here are wrong

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Christopher Lanman
4 years ago

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!

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10 years ago

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.

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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Date Flow Result Factor  
2009-08-03 n/a Fatality One Boat Trip Read More




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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.

Philip Young


Matt Muir