This is a beautiful run on the upper reaches of the Cacapon. The major rapids are riverwide ledges and fastwater in sharp bends. Usually up in the winter and spring, the Cacapon features unusual rock formations, including Caudy's Castle, Chapel Rock, Trickling Springs and Ice Mountain.Access:
After closure of the Cold Stream access in 2003, regional paddling groups were working to secure reliable access four miles upstream at the Hwy 50 bridge in Capon Bridge, WV. Word is there may be a small use fee associated with the parking there and it is hoped the access will be available by April, 2004. Takeout at WV127 bridge on river right downstream of bridge. (NOTE: When running a shuttle via Rt. 15 and Rt. 45/20, be sure to go to the second bridge as you head east on Hwy. 127. The first bridge is over the North River, a tributary of the Cacapon.
For most paddlers, the Edwards Run/Cold Spring, WV put-in is the preferred put-in for the popular section of river down to the Rt. 127 take-out (Edwards Run - WV 127, 7.7 miles). It is located about 3.7 miles downstream (north) of Capon Bridge and avoids a section of mostly flatwater. The launch lies on the property of Mr. Sine who owns the land on both sides of the road in this location. The put-in is 200 yards upstream of his large brick house. Drive into the gravel and dirt driveway on the river side opposite a burned out house.
The river access is 0.6 miles upstream of the Edwards Run W.M.A. Go to Mr. Sine’s house, the big redbrick house 200 years downstream from the gravel & dirt river access driveway. Mr. Sine accepts a modest fee (currently $4.00 per boat) for the privilege granted to us to park on his property.
To get to the Edwards Run/Cold Spring, WV put-in from the WV 127 take-out, take WV 127 west for 1.4 miles. WV 29 comes in from the right and the road becomes WV 29, but you continue straight. Stay on WV 29 for 4.9 additional miles (at total of 6.4), at the town of Slainsville, turn left onto Cold Stream Lane, go 8.7 miles until the road parallels the Cacapon (you cross the North River on the way -- don't confuse the rivers), go about 0.3 miles further to Mr. Sine's brick house.
There are three ledges, with the third perhaps warranting a Class II+ rating because it can be sticky. The first ledge can be snuck on the far right. The second has a clean line on the left and the last is usually cleanest in the center right. The remaining rapids are Class I-II rock gardens, gravel bars and fastwater in sharp bends.
Posted by Ron on May 21, 2004 at 17:17:01:
In Reply to: Paddler's Access Notices posted by Ron Ray on May 21, 2004 at 17:13:39:
PAN Access Advisory Cacapon River at Capon Bridge (Rte 50) by Bing Garthright, 301-330-1225, April 22, 2004
Putting in at the Rte 50 bridge over the Cacapon River, in the town of Capon Bridge, adds about 4 miles to the more usual float from Edwards Run/Cold Spring down to Rte 127, the Forks of Cacapon. This firm-ground parking spot and long, sloping bank is especially attractive during high water levels. Thanks to the kind toleration of Mr. Donald Wolford of Capon Bridge, Paddlers' Access Network (PAN) has found a new, very good access at the bridge. Mr. Wolford owns the Red Rooster store (undergoing restoration in April 2004), the building immediately west of the bridge on the north side of Rte 50. He is willing for us to turn downstream (north) immediately at the western end of the bridge, drive down the gravel driveway, and park any vehicles that we leave there off to the right of the driveway, along the river bank—not against the side of the store. The put-in is about 25 yards downstream from the bridge on the left bank, down a well-grassed slope with a gently sloping bank at the bottom.
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: (1) We must call Mr. Wolford at least one day before paddling and let him know the trip leader's name/telephone number and the number of cars that will end up being parked at his store while we paddle down the Cacapon. Mr. Wolford's phone number is 304-856-2832. If we reach his answering machine, it will be enough to leave the information on the machine. He is not giving permission, but rather just trying to keep informed about what cars are doing parked on the property. (2) Parking space is probably limited to three vehicles, but parking for a few minutes while unloading could be done by about 8 vehicles. (3) Mr. Wolford has had problems with other paddlers leaving trash at this put-in. Please bag and remove any trash you find there before putting in.
THANKS TO: Don Wolford’s kindness; Zeth Zajac’s extensive scouting, and a tip from Dick Gramm.
PLEASE NOTE: Private owners and organizations never invite paddlers to use their land. Most are kind enough to tolerate it. Just as we paddle at our own risk, we use advisories, parking spaces, and access sites at our own risk.
When I did it, the first ledge hole looked like Class 6, due to its drowning machine character, but only Class 2 if you see it and avoid it to the right in time. However, I do think that a stronger warning about this hole is appropriate. It appears below a right turn and has a small crag/cliff on the left side. Putting in was no problem---5$ per boat.
I remember running this stretch in the fall of 1971, on a CCA trip. There must have been >100 boats on the river, on a rainy warm fall day, with the sodden smell of decaying leaves and a river running full and turbid. I have never forgotten that trip--the last time I paddled with my father before he died--and though I live far far away now, I hope someday to run it again--perhaps with my son.
Thank You for the info John. I gave the river a try yesterday and the Moorefield gauge was reading 1.9, witch is low. I started at Yellow Springs and attempted to go to Capon Bridge at rout 50. Let me just say, I did more walking the paddling. After a few hour walk, it started to storm. About half way, I and a few others decided to call it quits. I must say though, all and all I still had a great day on the river.
LOL, I know what you mean. MY first experience with that section of the river was quite thrilling. It was early April and the river running pretty good. My son and I decided we would try out our new fiberglass canoe. At the end of our trip all we could say was WOW!! The end results was seven holes in the canoe and several good, cold soakings.
Harold, the gauge reading at moorefield is not accurate at this time,due to construction.
the gauge is showing the river running when it is WAY to low
Harold, another comment from a Cacapon Lover.
He has seen an extreme amount of mud this year on the river..
Do you know of anything other than the lost river construction goin on that could be the problem ?
According to the Paddler's Access Network, a Washington region organization working to resolve regional river access issues, the putin situation at the Cacapon has changed do to a change in ownership at the property boaters have been using to putin. Access info, current to Aug. 1, 2005, is copied below. Please check this link for any changes:
"Access to the Cacapon River, from US 50 in Capon Bridge. This adds about 4 miles of flatwater to the traditional Cacapon whitewater run.
The former arrangements with Mr. Wolford, owner of the Red Rooster store, are obsolete. Mr. Wolford has sold the store.
The store is now Flower Creations and Gifts. The new owners allow put-in and take-out on the property, at $5 per boat. The store is located at the end of the west-bound side of the US 50 bridge at Capon Bridge, or downstream river left.
We THINK parking privileges are included, at the prior location. Immediately at the west end of the bridge and BEFORE the store, turn downstream / north onto a gravel driveway. The put-in is about 25 yards downstream, at a grassy slope. Park vehicles on the river side of the driveway, NOT alongside the store.
No advance notice is required, and you can launch / land after hours. Your payment goes into a self-service box that
Ran this stretch at 5-5.5 (river was rising while we were on it) back on 05/07/2016. Perfect level to run it. It makes the 4 miles of flatwater downstream from Capon Bridge a breeze and the ledges a lot of fun. Depending on how you run the ledges at this level, you can easily swamp an open boat (rec kayak or canoe) so I'd recommend a spray skirt/deck or bow and stern bags for the adventurous. Otherwise, some quick scouting can help you skirt the biggest holes and waves.
The descriptions of the beauty of this section don't do it justice. It's the most breathtaking trip I've had in WV and even beats out the famous "Trough" of the S. Branch Potomac for just how beautiful it can be. It's not as secluded, so there is intrusion from vacation homes and cabins from time to time, but the mountains and rock formations more than make up for this.
No wood or other obstacles to report. Clean, fun, and beautiful run.
on April 14th 2013 my boyfriend , his 11 year old son and I dropped our kayaks in at Capon Bridge. we were kayaking to route 127 bridge. The water gauge was at 5.25
peak at this time, because of the rain the day before. I was nervous since the 11 yr. old only kayaked in a small lake, yet he picked up the paddling technique real quick. The river was moving fast, and it was muddy. I enjoyed the whitewater rapids, churning and twisting every which way. when we came to the first ledge, the current pushed my kayak to the rightside in the middle. I tipped over headfirst, and boy was my body in for a cold shock. I tumbled around and then popped up, holding my kayak and paddle with my right hand. swimming sidestroke with my left arm. All i could think about was hypothermia and getting to land. the current was strong, as my friend was screaming for me to get to land. I finally grabbed some tree roots and held on in one place, until I had enough strength to pull my body on land. All the kayaks had water in them. the 11 year old tried to save me too. I had clothes in a dry sack and immediately changed. We rested for an hour eating our lunch. Two more ledges down river to go over. Once my breathing became normal, and I felt like kayaking again, it was back on the river. The rapids were high and fun to go through. We had another snag, when the 11 year old got his kayak caught sideways against a down tree. It must have taken his Dad 40 minutes to get his son and the kayak out of that pocket. The current was pushing the kayak under the tree. The Dad threw a rope to his son and pulled him out.
Once we were all together, we continued down river. going over the next two ledges were easy. The views of the caves, cliffs, caudy's castle, mushroom springs were just beautiful. More rapids to come and boy they were like a washing machine. The final stretch before the boat ramp, somehow I tipped over, and this time in two feet of water. I could feel the rock bottom and standup. I am five feet nine inches tall. I laughed at myself. Once at the boat ramp the slanesville volunteer fire company was getting water from the river. the hoses were blocking our exist. Those young boys saw us and they probably wondered what happened to me! I was a wet puppy! needless to say with everything that happened I had a great time, and was proud of the 11 year old making that whole river. it was a slap me five, ya we did it! I've had seven surgeries for breast cancer, and doing 12.6 miles of the river in high water was such a rush and challenge, I'd do it again!
Bridge at 127 is definitely back open now, as of about a month ago.
Thank You for the info John. I was unaware of the construction that was going on in the Lost River. I haven
Has anyone run this stretch recently? I tried calling the store that has taken the place of the Red Rooster and the listed number is disconnected. WV DNR lists the Coldstream access, but it's an old site from 2003, so I don't know if that is correct anymore either. Looking to find out what a good put-in solution is for this run.
For more recent information on put-in option, see
I run this whenever its up. except i put in on sandy hollow rd, its a bit back there...but cuts out the 4 miles of flat before the canyon. This a beautiful section and fun if its running. don't try it if its low, unless you have alot of patience and a beater boat, and sturdy shoes...and headlamps. Some locals and weekend cabiners fish it in canoes, but you gotta hate your boat to bring it here when its low.. start this run early and take your time admiring the geology and wildlife.
10 years ago
by Shane Hollis
There is a painted gauge at the Rt 127 takeout bridge with a pretty good zero. A virtual gauge has been created to approximate this reading. The primary gauge used is the Great Cacapon gauge which is in the Cacapon watershed, but about two days downstream. Using the Great Cacapon gauge alone, you would look for at least 2.5 feet if steady or rising or 3.0 feet if falling. In order to adjust for this, a calculation using the SFSB Moorefield gauge and to a lesser extent the NF Shenandoah Cootes Store gauge (both of which are in adjacent watersheds) are used by the Virtual gauge to move the Great Cacapon reading up the Cacapon watershed. Using the SFSB Moorefield gauge alone (the previous AW gauge for this run) produced a result of almost always being runnable, which can't be correct. Comments as to the usefulness of this calculation are appreciated.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Dick Gramm leads the Cacapon
Prelude to a swim
A little fun on a little ledge.
Cooling off on a hot summer day
Up by Hooks Mill Rd.
First Ledge 2
below the last 3 foot ledge
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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)
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.
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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