Cherry, West Virginia, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||30 fpm|
|Max Gradient||30 fpm|
|GAULEY RIVER NEAR CRAIGSVILLE, WV|
|usgs-03189100||11.50 - 17.00 ft||II-III||00h55m||10.67 ft (too low)|
The Cherry is an excellent novice/intermediate run with many places to practice basic paddling skills (eddy turns, peel outs, ferries, surfing, etc.). Routes 39 runs along the river for the first 3 miles from Richwood Inn to Fenwick. Then Routes 20/55 follow the river down to the confluence with the Gauley. This allows the paddler to choose to run 3, 6, or all 9 miles.
The gradient is fairly constant at about 30 feet/mile, making this almost continuous rock gardens. The rapid just upstream of the Fenwick Bridge signals the point where Laurel Creek adds its volume to what has been coming down the Cherry. Watch out for the hole in the center of this rapid, especially at high water. About two miles downriver from Fenwick the river curves to the right and a long rapid appears. The bottom of this rapid includes a slide into a wave train with a couple of good size waves. The river left eddy at the bottom of the slide provides an easy way to get onto the waves. The second wave has a little curler on the river right side that can flip the unwary paddler.
About 3/4 mile below the Holcomb bridge (where Route 20/55 crosses the Cherry) is series of rapids ending with the last major rapid before Rhododendron Park. At high water the unsuspecting paddler can encounter a couple of good sized holes at the bottom/center of this rapid.
The action continues below the park and all the way to the takeout. Hopefully you still have enough energy to enjoy these last 3 miles.
Putin: River right across from the Richwood Inn
Takeout: Curtin Bridge (Route 20) at the confluence of the Cherry and Gauley Rivers
Alternate putin/takeout points: Fenwick (3 miles) and Rhododendron Park on Rt. 20/55 (6 miles)