Lat/longitude coordinates determined by Bill Waickman using Garman GPS System.
This is a largely isolated run with several riverwide ledges that harbor keepers at higher levels. In addition, there is a multiple channelized section downstream of the 12 ft falls that stays chock full of wood. Many of the rapids lean towards mean at higher flows (2 ft + on Rt 33 bridge gauge). All in all, the Dry Fork nearby is a much safer run for those lacking advanced skills, though this is certainly a reasonable intermediate run at moderate flows.
There are 2 ways to reach the takeout from the Rt 33 bridge over the Laurel Fork.
1-Drive west on Rt 33 to the Alpena Inn and turn across from the inn on Alpena Road. Take this road till it intersects with the Glady Fork wilderness road and bear right, then up over the mountain and down to Jenningston. Takeout is approx 200 yards downstream of the Jenningston bridge over the Dry Fork on river left.
2-Drive east on Rt 33 to Harman, bear left onto Rt 32 and drive 6 miles to a left on Rt 72, then left on the Jenningston road, cross the Dry Fork and turn downstream to the takeout. Option 1 is the nice scenic route while option 2 is better in wintertime snow conditions.
Just looking at Google maps (I have not run this), it appears that this section (US33 to Jenningston) has a gradient of 60 feet per mile. There doesn't seem to currently be an entry for the section upstream of this one, but looking at the map it looks like a reasonable section would be from Road 40 to US33. This is about 12 miles and has a gradient of about 30 feet per mile. Does anyone have any info about that section?
EDIT: It's described in the West Virginia guidebook as class I-II.
Rowed this in my cataraft with 9 kayaks from the Chicago Whitewater Association. Gauge at Hendricks was 3400 cfs. One river wide tree with a narrow passage on left below falls. It was an awesome run. Ran the falls in the middle because there was a tree on the right side.
I rowed this on Friday 6 May 2016. Myself in a cataraft and 9 Kayakers from the Chicago Whitewater Association put in at 3400 cfs on Hendricks gauge. The falls had a tree on the right and the left also had logs. I ran the falls in the middle. 2 miles below the falls was also a large poplar with leaves stretching from river right almost to the left bank. This was an epic run. If you ever get a chance to run it go for it.
We did this at 5 inches at the bridge. The stream is full of downed trees . Getting around them required constant maneuvering. We had a very difficult portage around a strainer in a rapid about one mile below the falls. There is also a log in the river just under water at the level we paddled about one mile before the intersection with the dry fork. The portage around the falls is washed out and took a very long time.
This stream is runnable but much more difficult and dangerous since hurricane sandy filled laurel fork with multiple strainers.
Whats up with all the portraits of people that have nothing to do with the run? AW river pages aren't personal blogs, they are for river information. At least put up a picture of one of these people actually running a drop on Laurel Fork of the Cheat.
This is the AW Laurel Fork of the Cheat page. Open a picasa account for your personals please.
I ran this way back in '96, at 0.0, and we enjoyed it, but things change. I ran the falls in the middle, after scouting from both sides very carefully. The left side is certain death (huge crack above a boulder); the right side is a certain beating. Just FYI.
Hey Paul, you should probably either update this page or resign it.
The Evenwood gauge may not be coming back (it was taken offline when bridgework began where the gauge is located).
An alternative is the Gladwin gauge on the Dryfork. Though inexact, I've found the Laurel Fork with water when this gauge was over 8.5 ft.
Almost all of the pictures on this site have nothing to do with the Laurel Fork. It would be nice to remove them.
My friend and I ran this at a less-than ideal level of 2", give or take. The first 3 miles or so are gravel bar riffles that really make you wonder if this is the correct river. Very tedious. Then a 4' semi-ledge sneaks up on you, waking up your skills. After that things get fun with numerous slide-holes and shallow ledges to boogie through, similar to Seneca Creek. Be careful though as 5 major ledges exist on the run, some requiring a scout. The last large (7') ledge has 4 slots, and portaging is definitely not easy as the right bank is a vertical rock wall with a tree down.
One word of caution, the last 4 miles or so become really shallow and a few trees block off the river. We counted 5 strainers, one requiring a portage.
The river has a wide variety of rapids, moreso than most I've run in WV. Gravel bars, shallow rock gardens, slide-holes, vertical 4' ledges/holes and the mentioned 'waterfall' halfway down which is actually more of an oversized ledge with 3 channels. It's just for looking at though. Hats off to anyone able to run that thing and still live. I also do NOT recommend the river be run anything less than around 4" on the 33 bridge gauge. We got stuck too many times to count on the lower 1/4 of the run.
Please note that this run changes drastically with very little change in the putin gauge. I feel the ideal level is between 9 and 15 inches for a fun class 3-4 run. Between the minimum level of about 3 inches and 9 inches, the run, except for the falls, is an easy class 3. Around 18 inches, the max I've run it, all of those pleasant, little ledges you enjoyed at lower levels create keeper holes and you will be spending most of the day dodging one hole after the other with little time in between. It is definitely class 4 at that level.
Ran this on 5/3/2002. Putin gauge was 2 inches when we put on and 1 inch when we took off. 3 inches is probably fun minm. 2 inches was passable but really low in places. At 0800 Evenwood=4.20 Parsons 6.31 and Hendrix 4.14. While we ran it at a low level, I find it hard to imagine this as a class III-IV run except at way higher water. Except for the 12' falls the gradient is very evenly spread out over the river, there are few if any boulders to obstruct the view, the ledges are all 2-4' and easily approached to scout a spot to run them. And the rapids that are not ledge rapids are mostly wide open and visible. My best rating would be class III to III- (using Nantahala Falls as a reference rapid rated at III-)with maybe a low class IV (the 12' falls). The run does have VERY VERY high scenic values at any level. The length is a little misleading. It is long but the gradient is constant after about the first couple of miles and because the rapids (exc the 12') are so comfortable to approach and run, it is easy to keep moving. The stream bed at the put in is very indicative of what you will find downstream. In general the width and depth are about the same as at the put in bridge. Ocasionally it will narrow but in general it is the same or wider all the way down. Would like to see this at 12 inches and falling to 4 inches and falling.
The auto-gage above is on the Dry Fork and should be viewed only as a rough guide. The paddlers' gauge is on the left abutment at the Rte. 33 bridge.
An excellent alternative gauge is the Glady Fork at Evenwood. Minimum is 4.0 Evenwood.
Mark Anderson suggests:
Glady (ft) Laurel (in)
4.25 3 (minimum)
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Cataraft Laurel Fork
what chip chase does when it's not snowing
laurel fork falls
Surfing at the Laurel Fork Confluence
A Typical Laurel Fork Strainer
One of Many Laurel Fork Ledges
Waterfall at Mile Five of the Laurel Fork
Laurel Fork Confluence
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