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Difficulty II-IV
Length 7 Miles
Flow Range 3.50 - 5.50 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 3.02 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/24/2005 10:21 am

River Description

This gem of a stream is frequently crowded with fishermen (and women). It is a remote stream with limited access and a long hike out if you get into trouble.

The rapid between the putin and the FS 76 bridge is just an inkling of what you can expect. After going under the bridge and passing Woodbine Picnic Area on the left you will continue picking your around boulders and through small chutes. About 3/4 mile below the putin the main flow of water will go around the right side of a big boulder - and into a log jam. It is best to go around the left side. Just below this boulder is a small (2-3 foot) drop that can be sticky at high water.

About 3 miles further downstream you will come to a long rapid where all the water channels to the right and then curves back to the left. There is a ledge just before the river curves back to the left with a nice (but not necessarily easy to get into) eddy on the left. The ledge forms a pretty sticky pour over - it's a good idea to have some speed going over it. From this eddy you will get a good view of the boulder that gives this rapid it's name (Cranberry Split). You also can get out on on the island to scout and set safety.

The boulder usually has a good pillow of water on its upstream face with some water going left around the boulder and most of the water going to the right. Just above the boulder is another small ledge. The safest line is to stay close to the rock on the right and keep working right as you go over the ledge. Watch for the small rock in the middle at the bottom of the right channel. I have never run the left side of the big boulder because it looks nasty at low levels. It might be OK to go that way at higher water when you can just go over the rock in the middle of that chute.

This is NOT the place to swim. If you do, swim aggressively for the river right side and avoid coming up on the big boulder that forms the split. There was a fatality here in April, 2006. A link to the accident report is shown in the column on the right of this page.  

After Cranberry Split you will find a few more class III rapids and then the gradient eases up and it becomes a class II run down to the confluence with the Gauley. The Gauley is a much bigger, wider river but the rapids remain class II/III all the way down to the takeout.

Putin: Just above the FS 76 bridge on river right

Takeout: The bridge at the confluence of the Cherry and Gauley on Routes 20/55

Rapid Descriptions


Summary of Gauge Readings

The gauge is just below the bridge where FS 76 crosses the river.

The recommended minimum of 3.5 feet is approximately 260 cfs and the recommended maximum of 5.5 feet is approximately 1400 cfs.

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
AW Gauge Info
3.02 ft 01h07m n/a

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.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2006-04-23 Medium Fatality Cold Water Read More




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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.

Charles and Nancy Brabec