The Cheat is a local favorite, with 10 miles of wilderness paddling, impressive rock formations, and more than a handful of III-IV rapids with great play at many levels.
Every year, on the Friday of Cheat Fest (the first weekend in May), this river is host to the "Cheat River Mass-Occurrence," a truly legendary race. With a mass start of as many as 150 paddlers, this race begins with chaos and ends with a phenomenal party.
Put-in - 1 mi north of Albright. From Interstate 68, head South on Route 26. After about ten miles, take a sharp Right into Teter's Campground. Drive through Teter's campground to land owned by Friends of the Cheat. This is an AW paddlers' easement. Or you can put in at the bridge on Rte. 26 (where the paddlers' gauge is located) at Albright.
Take-out - Jenkinsburg Bridge, at the confluence of the Cheat and Big Sandy. Look for the turn-off to Hudson Road (WV 15), about 6 miles South of I-68; take it west for about 7 miles to Jenkinsburg.
Charlie Walbridge adds:
Mountain Streams and Trails, the new owner of the Jenkinsburg Access, asks that private paddlers running the Cheat and Big Sandy use the Upper Parking Lot during Cheat Fest Weekend. The Lower Parking Lot should be kept clear for outfitter trucks and buses. Vehicles parked there make maneuvering these big rigs difficult or impossible. So please park where you're supposed to and give a big THANK YOU to any MS&T employees you see on--or off--the river.
Gorp description of river
Map of Area
Canyon Topo Map showing rapids
Keel Hauler Rating - 26
Take-out - On river right side just below Jenkinsburg bridge.
Lat/Longitude coords verified by GPS.
This first rapid is a series of offset holes. If you have much trouble here, you can make the Decision to hike back upstream to the putin.
We just ran the Cheat Canyon at 1.2 on the bridge (0.6 on the on-line gauge), and it was delightful, with clean lines, no scraping and lots of play, even though it was slightly below minimum according to this site. It was also quite runnable when I did it at 1.0 a few years ago. Perhaps the minimum level should be adjusted downwards.
Sadly, Glenn is no longer able to run shuttle. You are on your own. It's not too bad if you have a reasonably high-clearance vehicle.
The bottom of maze rapid (between high falls and coliseum ) has a large log blocking the entire right part of the exit. It is hard to see from above and has a sketchy very small exit on the left. This is a very dangerous hazard.
Ran it on 10/8 at 2.5 ft on the paddlers gauge. Gorgeous and exciting run, lots of good play. I would recommend this to everyone. But the shuttle is no joke. I wouldn't go down there again without 4 wheel drive or expect to do serious damage to your suspension (oil pan too if your car is small!). Some other paddlers had shuttle set up via 4 wheelers, they were smart. Does anyone have an updated phone number to reach Glenn Miller for shuttle service? The number on the main page has been disconnected.
I came on 4/1/09, the Albright gauge shows 0.5 when the real level was up-to 8'.
The Albright Gauge is wrong, don't use it, use the Parsons Gauge instead. By looking at the flow of the Parsons Gauge you can estimate the Albright Bridge Level:
Albright Bridge Level = 1.0 foot at ~ 1000 cfs
Albright Bridge Level = 3.0 feet at ~ 3100cfs
Albright Bridge Level = 5.0 feet at ~ 6000 cfs
Albright Bridge Level = 8.0 feet at ~ 11000 cfs
Pinned Pyranha Burn in Pete Morgans Rapid in the center right channel. Two hours spent by Louisville Viking Club, Hoosier Canoe Club, and local river guides trying to extract it. If it is still there or if you find a yellow/orange Medium Burn on the Cheat or Cheat Lake please contact Monica at 574-229-3145. The boat has been found and returned. Thank you to all of those involved in the retrieval.
During the cheat race (2012) I used a raft paddle after I lost my kayak paddle. If you are the guy that loaned your paddle, and you have not gotten it back, then please send me an email.
Updated 5/3/2011 2:15pm: Parsons' Gauge link is fixed.
Thanks to the quick action of John Kobal (AW's Streamteam river editor) the link to the Parsons' Gauge has been corrected.
I apologize if my information is misleading, so please correct me if I am wrong about this.
In the "Flow" tab is the following: "Another gauge of interest is Parsons, but it's farther upstream, allow 18 hrs for Parsons flow to reach Albright."
This link to Parsons goes to the http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Gauge_detail_id_1327_ which shows as USGS Station 03070260 which I believe is the Albright Gauge and not the Parsons Gauge.
Here's the link to Parsons Gauge on the USGS website:
The USGS gauge has been moved from the Albright Power Station to SR26 bridge. Therefore, the only conversion required is to subtract 10' from its reading to get the painted bridge gauge reading. I would appreciate if paddlers could verify this in the next few weeks. Also USGS has promised to eventually add CFS data to the link.
6 years ago
by Matt Muir
7 years ago
by Robert Farmer
The Jenkinsburg Project is a partnership between a private landowner, two river-oriented non-profits, a state environmental agency, five canoe and kayak clubs, and hundreds
of donors from West Virginia and the surrounding states.
Paddlers generally go by the painted gauge on the bridge in Albright.
Cheat Albright PS GaugeAlbright Bridge = (Albright USGS) - 10.0'
Bridge Level Calculator
Low 1.25' bridge, High 5' bridge
Power Bridge Gauge is now working again but has been moved to the SR26 bridge. Another gauge of interest is Parsons, but it's farther upstream, allow 18 hrs for Parsons flow to reach .A graph showing Albright Bridge Vs Rowlesburg Flow is linked here. However it looks like the USGS has shutdown this gauge.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Put-in - 1 mi north of Albright. From Interstate 68, head South on Route 26. After about ten miles, take a sharp Right into Teter's Campground. Drive through Teter's campground to land owned by Friends of the Cheat. This is an AW paddlers' easement. Or you can put in at the bridge at Albright.
Pete Morgan Rapid
Playing in Big Nasty
Losing your keys
Sean at Upper Coliseum
Sean at Teardrop
Sean at Big Nasty
Adam at Upper Coliseum
Adam at Teardrop
Big Nasty in a Duckie - Yes Kurt's Still in the duckie
Joe and his Duckie Attack Big Nasty
Jess Taking on Big Nasty in a Duckie
Big Nasty in a Duckie - Kurt 1
Coliseum Fun with the Corn
Cheat Canyon Map
Albright Bridge 1985
Cheat Canyon Aerial Photo Map (Large file)
When "Big Nasty" at "Beast Level" Chews You Up and Spits You Out
Big Nasty at "Beast Level"
Prelude to "Big Nasty Hydrolic" at Cheat's "Beast of the East" level
Why called "The Beast of The East" river and "Big Nasty Rapids"
First descent of drop? If not, then Zone Dogg. Holy steepness!!!
Glenn Miller Shuttle
Jason Miller throwing ends in Cueball on the Cheat Canyon, WV
Post Cheat Race-Chuck Singer (KHCC Team) & Eric Quigley (KSU Team)
Post Cheat Race-Chuck Singer wearing Asshauler Shirt made by KSU Team
Post Cheat Race-KSU Team wearing Asshauler Shirts
Post Cheat Race-KSU wearing Asshauler Shirts-KHCC
Post Cheat Race-KHCC Team wearing Asshauler Shirt made by KSU Team
Pre Cheat Race-KHCC Teams
Pre Cheat Race-Dave Duke & Kayak
Pre Cheat Race
Pre Cheat Race-KSU Dave Knox
Pre Cheat Race-Cliff Wire
Pre Cheat Race-Matt Muir
Pre-Cheat Race-KSU Dukey 01 Kayak
(Pre-Cheat Race) KSU Asshauler Kayak
The Daly Brothers
Cueball, Slot 3
Cueball, First Slot
End of Coliseum
Playing at Cueball
Cueball, Slot 2
2000 Cheat River Massacre-ance
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Thanks to the tireless work of The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund over 3,800 acres of the Cheat River Canyon were recently protected. The acquisition covers a 7 mile stretch of the Cheat River between Albright and the high bridge at Jenkinsburg, the famous “Cheat Canyon” whitewater run. Great news for the Cheat!
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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!