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Difficulty III-V
Length 13 Miles
Gauge SHAVERS FORK AT BEMIS, WV
Flow Range 5.50 - 6.60 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 second ago N/A
Reach Info Last Updated 04/25/2006 11:08 am

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.

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Robert Farmer
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13 years ago

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.

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Jonathan Mayhew
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14 years ago

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.

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Andrew Stuart
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11 months ago

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.

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8 years ago

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.

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Chris Preperato
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8 years ago

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.

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n/a
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6 years ago

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Jonathan Mayhew
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14 years ago

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.

Summary of Gauge Readings

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.

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
SHAVERS FORK AT BEMIS, WV
AW Gauge Info
N/A
SHAVERS FORK NR CHEAT BRIDGE, WV
AW Gauge Info
4.96 ft 01h10m
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Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

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No Accident Reports

Alerts

News

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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.
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Mark Anderson