Elk River - 3. Bergoo to Webster Springs

Elk River, West Virginia, US


3. Bergoo to Webster Springs

Usual Difficulty II-III(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 11.6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 30 fpm
Max Gradient 30 fpm


Photo of Dave by John Duke taken 04/04/03 @ 5.6@Webster Springs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03194700 5.00 - 7.00 ft II-III(IV) 00h19m 4.39 ft (too low)

River Description

From Bergoo to the CR 15/3 bridge that goes to Curtin the rapids are mostly of the cobble bar variety. From this bridge downstream the rapid makers are mostly small ledges with the biggest one known as Parcoal Falls or the PX. Paddlers unfamiliar with this rapid should scout river right or sneak far left.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2003-11-04 22:09:17


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.
June 16 2011 (2771 days ago)
JRSurbaugh (152802)
For the Curtain Bridge to Webster Springs run (the classic race course) between 5.5 & 7 ft. is
ideal for the intermediate boater. Between 4.5 & 5.5 ft. this section begins to look boney;
however, The Elk below Webster, where the Back Fork (a scenic creek with waterfalls and a hiking
trail) enters, is navigable at these levels, & in many ways offers a very fun 'read & run' ride.
Above 7 ft. the Elk truly begins to turn into a class IV-V river. I've came really close to
drowning in this river above 8 ft. in a huge pour-over in th race section between Curtain Bridge &
PX ... head over heals, no touching the ground, no swimming out (I don't know who came up with the
"turn into a ball" rule, but I had to 'make like a stick' & gracefully pull th "Jesus pose").
June 16 2011 (2771 days ago)
JRSurbaugh (152802)
----------- The following is a summary for levels between 5 & 7 ft. on this section. Between 5 &
5.5 ft. a 14ft. raft will seem to be too big for the river. Above 7 ft. the river begins to change
dramatically & should only be ran by experienced boaters, and scouting should be involved. The
river can rise fast. ---------- There is a put-in at The Curtin Bridge. From here to the "The PX
Rapid" it is a very 'read & run' river: It is a great intermediate section: You often shift from
one side of the river to the other once you learn it. Pour--overs are out there, so watch out for
the frowney-faces. & As always, look out for strainers, as it is pretty much a wilderness section
until you get into town. There are several smiley-faces & some runnable ledge drops if you know
where to look for them. -------------Before the "PX Rapid" there is a tightly grouped series of
(very small at 5ft.) type-writer curlers on river right (surfers left). It is easy to eddy out &
scout the PX Rapid just down-stream from this on river-right. If you ask locals you might find
assistance in scouting the rapid in Parcoal pre-trip (advised). On race-day during The Webster
Wildwater Weekend there is a crowd of locals gathered on the right bank at "The PX," & if you ask
the right people, you can put-in just below "PX". ----------- With the PX Rapid it is often the
case that people are most scarred of "The Crack" at the bottom right, which in it's own right
consist of water which flows through "Don't Become a Crack-Head Rock" (5+ft. the 'rock with the
crack' should be covered up with water: The current will suck you 'right' to it, and through it;
and you may go through, as I once did, upside-down … raft running through sideways & on top of me,
lol.) ----------------- However, The scariest hole (the hole that caused me to go through the crack
on my back) in the PX Rapid is top center: It is affectionately called "Jim's Butt Hole" (Our
friend Jim Casey lost his shorts there one day.) I do not see this hole pictured on the AW site. It
is a very munchy hole: It is like two curlers/reactionaries feeding in on each other: It is marked
by a series of reactionaries up-stream; however, it is harder to read them coming in from up-stream
than one may think by simply scouting. … I have been square as can be, guiding a raft, my crew in
sync & all forward & have still been flipped in this hole … & The River Gods will take your cloths.
From this hole 75% of the river heads towards the direction of "The Crack." ----------- There is
also a fluffy & more friendly hole in the middle of the rapid, right of center, just upstream from
"The Crack." It is possible to hit this fluffy hole I have always called "Don't Become a Crack-head
Hole" & still miss "The Crack" by immediately cutting a hard ferry angle & powering yourself
towards river-left: There is also a sneak line along the far-right river bank. Some kayakers like
to go ahead & throw their paddle in the air & glide 'right' on through "The Crack." I have even fit
a mini-me raft through it square: it was a very narrow fit, but it was square (oops.) Going back to
the top of "PX", there is a big ledge drop at the top-left: Trying to dodge everything this way
could be a mistake (I have ran every possible rout, whether purposeful or not.) At 5ft. it is very
rocky: If you run this be prepared for a scrapped up boat or a very jerky ride in which someone can
easily be thrown from an open boat. ----------- The best 'sneak line' through "PX" is to the right
of "Jim's Butt Hole," & to the left of "Don't Become a Crack-head Hole." … & keep going hard left,
there is a channel where the remanding 25% of the water flows. … & of course, you can walk around
the entire rapid on the river right bank. ----------------- When the river rises towards
flood-stage what you see at PX becomes almost indescribable: A HUGE pyramid wave forms at the
bottom: At the top of the pyramid wave it looks like 4 different breaking waves are crashing
together. -------------- After PX there is a decent recovery pool … (at a "runnable" level.) Then
you will see small mini-cliffs to the left, possibly with little water-fall like things coming in
on 'em. When the water is emerald it makes for nice scenery. Around the bend is "Log Cabin Rapid" &
the "Jack in the Box" Hole. It doesn't look like much from above but there is a fluffy & flushy ? :
) hole At the top of the rapid dead-center of the river called "Jack IN The Box". I always just
lined up for the middle & let my boat drift into this-one, its not very legible until you get right
to it. If you can get a camera down here, there are nice spots to take pictures of people hitting
it square from above & catching the immediate eddy for a surf. It is a fluffy & flushy hole, about
just as long as tall, but I still got the mini-me raft in there many times long enough to flip &
laugh at everybody.) There is a small but decent eddy immediately down stream & to the right &
"Jack IN the Box" is basically surrounded by rock-gardens. There is not too much room because the
river quickly bends left, (a log cabin up on the hill river-right appears btw) , & there is a
decent wave train to the right … watch out for branches in the wave train & watch out for rocks to
the right just below the wave-train: As the water rises riding the wave-train can smack you right
into something. ----------------- The 4 "Cherry Falls Ledge Drops" appear soon, and sometimes
spectators line the guardrails of the road river-right & cluster river-left. At decent water
surfing gets bigger here. … They are not huge ledge drops, but Keep in mind they are still ledge
drops. --------------- For the 1st & 2nd drops look for the dips : ) in the ledges center &
center-right. After the 2nd drop you will want to cut right in order to line up for what is often
everybody's favorite, the 3rd ledge (we always called it "Aqua-Lung " because it's the longest of
the ledges & it often has at least one wave that can give you a mouth-full of water), which starts
you off right of center & has you angle left to hit the wave/hole at the bottom. … I have seen more
people flip in the 4th ledge than in any other … by far: Just hit the tongue in the middle. The
curlers/current to the side of the tongue can suck you in, kick you sideways, and force you to surf
it. If you are looking for a cool surf, look at the other ledges first, the "Cherry Falls Ledges"
can be seen from the road. --------------- The trip mellows out through the rest of the section if
you are taking out at Baker's Island. As you go past the school-bus lot to the right; though, there
is a ledge drop representing the remains of an old dam or something. This thing is stupid. The good
thing is that sometimes you can creep along the top of it & find a shoot: The obvious shoot has a
*%$ rock just below it. ------------------ If you are going to continue past the Island you can
take out at the sewer plant. This gives you a chance to run "Heroes In A Half-shell" rapid (get it?
Ninja turtles lived in a sewer … boats are a half-shell … locals will sometimes just call it "Sewer
Plant Rapid") … you know you are approaching this when you see the above ground pipeline lining the
river. The rapid is often a long frothy white thing (rocky yet still frothy at low water, just ask
my butt) and can be followed by a big (& possibly dangerous) hit at the bottom. Scout this rapid if
possible! ------------------ If you are going past that I don't know anybody that has bad things to
say about the very read & run, very scenic & very fun, 'rapid-pool-style' "Down Elk" leg which
continues (when it is runnable & the water is nice & emerald … if the water is muddy you might want
to re-check the gauge.) This section can sometimes be ran when the section from Curtain to Baker's
Island is too low.
April 8 2009 (3570 days ago)
x (1)
Robert Farmer---Hi, I did this on April 4, 2009. The level was about 6.6/2500 on the
telemetric/internet gauge at Webster Springs, which I've been told is 3 feet higher than the visual
gauge on the right side of the island in WS. I was told erroneously by some other kayaker on the
river that there were no significant rapids on this section, but, fortunately, I pretty much never
believe people who tell me that, anyway. I ran the big ledge just right of center, largely because
I was too tired, lazy, cold, crampy, and whiny to scout---this is usually a perfect recipe for
disaster. Well, it worked, and the left side didn't look too great to me, anyway. It felt a lot
like the Gauley at high water---a serious rapid, for sure! This was quite a large, exciting rapid
at this level. There appeared to be some extreme ugliness in the middle of the river to my
immediate left. Definitely be careful; this was a kind of scary rapid, although the level is
apparently considered to be kind of high (it was low where I started, at Slatyfork). Upstream, a
good Class 4 rapid started underneath a bridge (Curtin Road, perhaps?) That might make a good
put-in to cherry-pick the hardest section down to Webster Springs. This section was definitely
better than expected! I'm certainly glad that I did it.


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