Cranberry - AC (Lower): Big Rock Camping Area to Gauley River

Cranberry, West Virginia, US


AC (Lower): Big Rock Camping Area to Gauley River

Usual Difficulty II-IV (for normal flows)
Length 7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 40 fpm
Max Gradient 40 fpm

Rock in Cranberry Split

Rock in Cranberry Split
Photo by Mike Whaley

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03187500 3.50 - 5.50 ft II-IV 00h33m 2.77 ft (too low)

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

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2005-05-24 10:21:49

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 18 2011 (2802 days ago)
Charles and Nancy BrabecDetails
Paddled the river at 4.55 feet today. New trees in several places. Portaged one about 1 mile below
the FS76 bridge. There is a log in the ledge/drop and a tree completely blocking the eddy above the
island just above Cranberry Split. Also a tree in the sneak to the right of the Split.