Cheat, Shavers Fork - 3. McGee Run to Bemis


Cheat, Shavers Fork, West Virginia, US

Disclaimer

3. McGee Run to Bemis

Usual Difficulty III-V (for normal flows)
Length 13 Miles

Running the meat of Railroad


Running the meat of Railroad
Photo of Nori Onishi taken 04/19/06 @ 3.7 ft

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
SHAVERS FORK AT BEMIS, WV
usgs-03068000 3.30 - 4.50 ft III-V ft


River Description

Shavers at Bemis USGS Gauge

Upper Shaver's Fork is a classic remote WVA run requiring a full day of shuttling and paddling to access and enjoy. The first few miles are easy Class II-III. High Falls of the Cheat, a 15-20 ft riverwide ledge falls, marks the beginning of a Class IV section that is followed by several more miles of Class III-IV.

The run begins at McGee Run, which is located near railroad marker 61. At railroad marker 53, the river constricts and gorges up, marking the beginning of a mile of class 3 rapids above High Falls. The first of these rapids comes on a sharp right-hand bend and consists of 3 different series of 3 foot ledges. Through this section the river continually drops over a number of moderate-sized bedrock slides composed of varying types of rock.

When you see a distinct horizon line, a wooden observation deck, and a primitive campsite, get out on river right to scout or portage High Falls. The cleanest line over the falls is right of center, just to the left of a rock promontory that can be jumped off of in low water. There is also a potential line on river right; however, this side of the falls is backed up by one of the biggest boils I have ever seen- it most definitely did not look friendly if you screwed up.

Below the falls, the river drops through several tough class 4 rapids. The first of these is a series of broken, boulder-strewn ledges with a tricky, technical line down the right or a narrow sneak down river left. The second drop below the falls consists of a long series of boulder drops which funneled the river towards an ugly pillowed boulder near river left. Below the boulder, which should be avoided at all costs, the rapid squeezes to the right over a drop which is partially blocked by a nasty strainer. Anyone with doubts about their ability to negotiate the technical approach to and the narrow gap through the strainer should portage along river left. A difficult to reach eddy on river left just above the strainer can also be used to bypass the hazard. After several more miles of class 3-4 ledge drops and boulder gardens, a high concrete railroad bridge crosses the river.

Below here, the river bends to the right and plunges over a nasty class 5 drop just above a second railroad bridge. At 3.7 ft, this rapid consists of a constricted horseshoe drop of 6 feet into a nasty hole. To complicate matters, the majority of the flow drops over the right-hand side of the horseshoe and slams against an ugly pinning rock along the left side of the chute, forming a nasty hole with definite pinning potential. The drop opens up at higher levels, but the hole at the base of the ledge becomes very sticky. The best scouting and portage route can be found on river right.

Below here the river travels over continuous class 3 ledge drops until you come to a second distinct horizon line. This is Mule Hole, a strong class 4 rapid which drops over a series of large ledges terminating in a 5 foot drop into a frothy swimming hole (at low levels). The easiest line at Mule Hole is down the right side, making a left turn to punch the final hole. An interesting hero line can be run down the middle, which requires the paddler to surf a beefy ledge hole just above the final drop over to the far right. Another mile of class 3 rapids brings the paddler to Bemis.

THE SHUTTLE: One of the biggest problems with this run is the shuttle- it takes awhile to get to Bemis, and even longer to get to McGee run (provided you don't get lost- which is a MAJOR possibility). Since this shuttle is so long and complex, I thought I would go into some detail about it here.

TO BEMIS: From Route 33/55 heading west towards Elkins, turn left at Alpena (at the Alpine Motel) onto CR 27, following it to Glady. At Glady, bear right onto CR 22, which heads over the hill and down to Bemis. At Bemis, park along the right side of the road directly across the bridge over the Shaver's Fork (ask permission at the house on the right, the owner was very friendly and didn't mind us parking there at all- let's keep it that way).

FROM BEMIS TO MCGEE RUN: Continue following CR 22 through Bemis and up the mountain- the road quickly turns to dirt/gravel, becoming very rough and muddy (4x4 might help but is not necessary). Resist the urge to take any of the many roads which branch off CR 22 as you climb up and over the mountain, particularly a lefthand private road which leads to nowhere (just continue following the main road to the right up the mountain and you should be fine). Eventually, CR 22 ends at a 3 way T intersection with an unmarked dirt road, which is CR 30 (Left Fork Files Creek Road). Take a left onto this road; you will know you are on the right one if you immediately pass a red farm gate on your right. This road soon becomes paved again, passing a couple side roads and several homes. Eventually it ends at a 3 way intersection with a stop sign. Turn left here onto CR 37/8 (Files Creek Road)- landmarks on this road include a gas refinery station on the immediate left after making the turn, an Izaak Walton League building on the left a little farther up, and the Tygart Valley Muzzleloaders shooting range on the left where the road turns into gravel. Continue following this road (resist the urge to take a right and cross a small bridge over a stream, continue left instead) until you come to Forest Service Route 92, which branches off to the left and is marked by a brown sign on a post which says "92". Follow FR 92 for several miles, keeping your eyes open for FR 210 (McGee Run Road), which will branch off FR 92 to the left and is marked with a large brown sign marked "210". Take this road to the putin at the Shavers Fork catch and release area (which has 3 primitive campsites). This part of the shuttle (Bemis to McGee Run) takes about an hour.

ANOTHER NOTE ON SHUTTLE: To reduce driving time at the end of the run, instead of backtracking from McGee Run to Bemis, a shorter route can be taken by going back up FR 210, taking a right onto FR 92, and taking a right back onto CR 37/8. Instead of turning right onto CR 30 (Left Fork Files Creek Road) at the gas plant to go back to Bemis, continue down CR 37/8 a couple more miles. When you see CR 24 (King Run Road) on your right, turn onto it, following this road all the way to its end at a stopsign at Route 219. Taking a right from here will take you into downtown Elkins, where one can access route 33/55 east to head back towards Alpena.

GAUGE INFO: Levels between 5.5-6.5 ft at Cheat Bridge or 3.3-4.4 ft at Bemis are recommended the guidebooks. For larger boats such as rafts, the higher end of this range is preferable due to the shallowness of some of the early cobble rapids. Some paddlers also use a bridge gauge located on the old route 33 bridge on CR 33/8- acceptable levels on this gauge are between 2.0-3.0 ft.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2006-04-25 11:08:54

Editors


Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 1 2018 (177 days ago)
Andrew StuartDetails
Finally got to run the Shavers Fork 3/31/18, McGee Run to US 33 (the trailer park where 33 turns
from the river). When we put on, Cheat Bridge was at 562 cfs/6.9'. When we took off, Bowden was at
1500/6.5. Most agreed that any much lower would have started exposing many FU rocks. By a Caltopo
trace, McGee Run to Bemis is actully 15.4 miles and Bemis to 33 is 8.9.
October 18 2010 (2900 days ago)
Chris PreperatoDetails
Ran it 10/01/2010. Opting to try for a shorter put-in option, we hiked the High Falls trail to the
river. We all agreed that, even though it cuts the shuttle to about 10-15mins each way, the 3 mile
hike over the ridge is probably not worth it. The altitude gain isn't too bad, but it switchbacks
quite a bit and took us over 2 hours of hiking As for the river, the level was around 500cfs at
Cheat Bridge, and 1400ish at Bowden. It had receded from levels of 4000 and 9000 respectively the
previous day. High Falls had a few runnable lines, and the rapids between that and Railroad were
fairly continuous Class 3+-4. Railroad itself would be best called a Class IV rapid, with a fairly
obvious line down the right of center with a decent margin for error. With more water, I could see
the hole being an issue Mule Hole on the other hand looked more like a Class IV-V rapid...the right
side ledge halfway down has a very strong backwash and low head dam qualities (and seems to feed an
undercut shelf). The left line was shallow and had some decent sized holes as well.
August 12 2010 (2967 days ago)
bencreekin (12690)
Paddled Shavers Fork 8/5/2010, McGee Run to Bowden. The level was 450cfs at Cheat Bridge and
1300cfs at Bowden. This was a great level, no scraping and not pushy. I think we counted less than
5 (small)pools we had to paddle across. 20+miles of great waves and play with a few challenging
rapids to keep your attention. No wood issues currently. Fantastic run.
January 28 2006 (4623 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
I couldn't read through the enormous amount of info above, but it's worth noting that the Bemis
gauge is not readable on-site (i.e. telemetric only), so don't look for it. Also, Carlos Kinder,
636-8113, has always done my shuttle for me. He lives in the house next to the railroad tracks.
Also, the drop called Mule Hole has an enormous, ugly, sickle-shaped undercut horizontal shelf on
the right, exactly where you need to run. It's terrifying, and may be covered at higher levels. Be
aware. I always end up ferrying hard left above it--kind of spooky. Uncertain boaters should
portage.
April 18 2004 (5274 days ago)
Jonathan MayhewDetails
Got another opportunity on 4/17/2004 to run the Shaver's Fork- the level when we put on at 9:00 AM
was 3.6 ft Bemis, 6.0 ft Cheat Bridge. We found that this run was much scrapier this time around,
despite the fact that the water was only an inch or so lower; keep this in mind when planning trips
up here- small changes in water level overnight can be a big difference. Several of the smaller
rapids at the top and a few of the larger rapids below High Falls were very tough to negotiate,
causing us to run aground or become pinnned a few times. High Falls itself was too low for the
Shredders this time, although a kayak could have easily ran it. One thing we have noticed about the
drop on both trips is that the river right side of the falls is very dangerous- a massive boil (the
boil constantly surges 3-4 feet above the pool level) blocks the outflow of the hole at the base of
the falls. Additionally, due to the low water we noticed that there is a recess behind the
waterfall curtain on this side of the falls that would not be a good place to end up. After running
this section again, I realized that there were a few difficult and possibly dangerous rapids I
simply didn't remember from the first trip. Most of these are straightforward but strong class 4
rapids similar to the bigger rapids on the Kitzmiller section of the North Branch Potomac. One
rapid, though, deserves a mention, and comes about 2 miles below High Falls. The river bends
slightly to the left and several large, rounded boulders split the flow into slots on river right.
These slots carry the majority of the river's flow, as opposed to a wide, shallow, rocky sneak on
river left. Unfortunately, these slots are completely blind from the top, and all of these boulders
are severely undercut. The line starts from river right and forces the paddler to work hard towards
river left through a narrow slot, avoiding a center channel which had 3 trees pinned in it today.
This drop is pretty sketchy due to the undercuts and trees- if you are unsure about the safety of
the passage it is best to try and bang down the sneak on river left. In general, we noticed alot
more undercuts this run down; most of the major rapids have at least one undercut boulder or shelf
of rock which would be fatal to a swimmer- one guy dropped his paddle on accident only to watch it
disappear underneath a rock shelf just downstream (it never came out). As far as water level is
concerned, kayakers should be fine down to the minimums in the guidebooks; rafters, however, would
be wise to stay off the water unless it is at least 3.7 at Bemis- higher is probably better still
though.
April 13 2004 (5279 days ago)
Jonathan MayhewDetails
Ran this stretch on 4/10/2004 with a water level of 3.7 ft Bemis. This has to be one of the most
remote and beautiful stretches of water in the state. The run begins at McGee Run, which is located
near railroad marker 61, dropping through class 2-3 cobble rapids and ledge drops for several
miles. One of these rapids is a broad ledge with a large hole in the center- possibly one of the
biggest on the river. At railroad marker 53, the river constricts and gorges up, marking the
beginning of a mile of class 3 rapids above High Falls. The first of these rapids comes on a sharp
right-hand bend and consists of 3 different series of 3 foot ledges. Through this section the river
continually drops over a number of moderate-sized bedrock slides composed of varying types of rock.
When you see a distinct horizon line, a wooden observation deck, and a primitive campsite, get out
on river right to scout or portage High Falls. The cleanest line over the falls is right of center,
just to the left of a rock promontory that can be jumped off of in low water. There is also a
potential line on river right; however, this side of the falls is backed up by one of the biggest
boils I have ever seen- it most definitely did not look friendly if you screwed up. Below the
falls, the river drops through several tough class 4 rapids. The first of these is a series of
broken, boulder-strewn ledges with a tricky, technical line down the right or a narrow sneak down
river left. The second drop below the falls consists of a long series of boulder drops which
funneled the river towards an ugly pillowed boulder near river left. Below the boulder, which
should be avoided at all costs, the rapid squeezes to the right over a drop which is partially
blocked by a nasty strainer. Anyone with doubts about their ability to negotiate the technical
approach to and the narrow gap through the strainer should portage along river left. A difficult to
reach eddy on river left just above the strainer can also be used to bypass the hazard. After
several more miles of class 3-4 ledge drops and boulder gardens, a high concrete railroad bridge
crosses the river. Below here, the river bends to the right and plunges over a nasty class 5 drop
just above a second railroad bridge. At 3.7 ft, this rapid consists of a constricted horseshoe drop
of 6 feet into a nasty hole. To complicate matters, the majority of the flow drops over the
right-hand side of the horseshoe and slams against an ugly pinning rock along the left side of the
chute, forming a nasty hole with definite pinning potential. The drop opens up at higher levels,
but the hole at the base of the ledge becomes very sticky. The best scouting and portage route can
be found on river right. Below here the river travels over continuous class 3 ledge drops until you
come to a second distinct horizon line. This is Mule Hole, a strong class 4 rapid which drops over
a series of large ledges terminating in a 5 foot drop into a frothy swimming hole (at low levels).
The easiest line at Mule Hole is down the right side, making a left turn to punch the final hole.
An interesting hero line can be run down the middle, which requires the paddler to surf a beefy
ledge hole just above the final drop over to the far right. Another mile of class 3 rapids brings
the paddler to Bemis.<br />
THE SHUTTLE: One of the biggest problems with this run is the shuttle- it takes awhile to get to
Bemis, and even longer to get to McGee run (provided you don't get lost- which is a MAJOR
possibility). Since this shuttle is so long and complex, I thought I would go into some detail
about it here. TO BEMIS: From Route 33/55 heading west towards Elkins, turn left at Alpena (at the
Alpine Motel) onto CR 27, following it to Glady. At Glady, bear right onto CR 22, which heads over
the hill and down to Bemis. At Bemis, park along the right side of the road directly across the
bridge over the Shaver's Fork (ask permission at the house on the right, the owner was very
friendly and didn't mind us parking there at all- let's keep it that way). FROM BEMIS TO MCGEE RUN:
Continue following CR 22 through Bemis and up the mountain- the road quickly turns to dirt/gravel,
becoming very rough and muddy (4x4 might help but is not necessary). Resist the urge to take any of
the many roads which branch off CR 22 as you climb up and over the mountain, particularly a
lefthand private road which leads to nowhere (just continue following the main road to the right up
the mountain and you should be fine). Eventually, CR 22 ends at a 3 way T intersection with an
unmarked dirt road, which is CR 30 (Left Fork Files Creek Road). Take a left onto this road; you
will know you are on the right one if you immediately pass a red farm gate on your right. This road
soon becomes paved again, passing a couple side roads and several homes. Eventually it ends at a 3
way intersection with a stop sign. Turn left here onto CR 37/8 (Files Creek Road)- landmarks on
this road include a gas refinery station on the immediate left after making the turn, an Izaak
Walton League building on the left a little farther up, and the Tygart Valley Muzzleloaders
shooting range on the left where the road turns into gravel. Continue following this road (resist
the urge to take a right and cross a small bridge over a stream, continue left instead) until you
come to Forest Service Route 92, which branches off to the left and is marked by a brown sign on a
post which says "92". Follow FR 92 for several miles, keeping your eyes open for FR 210
(McGee Run Road), which will branch off FR 92 to the left and is marked with a large brown sign
marked "210". Take this road to the putin at the Shavers Fork catch and release area
(which has 3 primitive campsites). This part of the shuttle (Bemis to McGee Run) takes about an
hour. ANOTHER NOTE ON SHUTTLE: To reduce driving time at the end of the run, instead of
backtracking from McGee Run to Bemis, a shorter route can be taken by going back up FR 210, taking
a right onto FR 92, and taking a right back onto CR 37/8. Instead of turning right onto CR 30 (Left
Fork Files Creek Road) at the gas plant to go back to Bemis, continue down CR 37/8 a couple more
miles. When you see CR 24 (King Run Road) on your right, turn onto it, following this road all the
way to its end at a stopsign at Route 219. Taking a right from here will take you into downtown
Elkins, where one can access route 33/55 east to head back towards Alpena.<br />
GAUGE INFO: Levels between 5.5-6.5 ft at Cheat Bridge or 3.3-4.4 ft at Bemis are recommended the
guidebooks. For larger boats such as rafts, the higher end of this range is preferable due to the
shallowness of some of the early cobble rapids. Some paddlers also use a bridge gauge located on
the old route 33 bridge on CR 33/8- acceptable levels on this gauge are between 2.0-3.0 ft.


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