This photo needs editing.
Difficulty III+(V)
Length 5.3 Miles
Flow Range 180 - 450 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 51 minutes ago 10.6 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/23/2012 5:01 pm

River Description

This creek is small with tight turns and continuous action. The biggest rapids (named Rockpile 1, Rockpile 2, and Rockpile 3) are in the sections where the creek does not run along the road. As you go down the creek try to figure out when you are going through one of these rapids. Watch out for strainers during the whole trip.

The section below the bridge on Saxman Road appears to be several braided channels and it's not clear if any one channel has enough water to make it runnable. If you make it through this section and want to extend the trip another 3 miles you can use Rhododendron Park on the Cherry as an alternate takeout.

When there is enough water to run Laurel Creek, the Cherry is usually running pretty high. It's interesting going from the tight, technical confines of Laurel Creek onto the wider and more open Cherry River.

There was a report on January 22, 2011 of a couple of river wide strainers that the paddlers were able to avoid with alternative channels.

Putin: Where Saxman Road (39-14) crosses Laurel Creek for the second time about 5 miles from Route 39.

Takeout: On river right by the bridge on Saxman Road (CR 39-14) unless you think you can continue down to the confluence with the Cherry. Then you can take out on river left on the Cherry just below the Route 39 bridge.

Rapid Descriptions


default user thumbnail
Earl Baer
1 month ago

What a fun creek, continuous creeky action. We did the Laurel on 5/24/2020 at a low runnable level and found it to be a bit more challenging than described above, We took our time and eddy hopped all of the bigger drops, did need to get out of the boat to scout one rapid a bit further than halfway down. At that time there was no wood that required portaging.

default user thumbnail
Dustin Johnson
2 years ago

Paddled twice in 2018. 250 cfs was on the low side, but cleanly runnable. 380 cfs was a great level. There is a tree in the right channel right after a modular home that is visible on river right. The left channel is clear. At 250 cfs, the entrance to the left channel requires pushing over rocks. No other wood in play.

default user thumbnail
Jeff Macklin
6 years ago

We were able to get on Laurel a 3 times in 2013. 200 cfs, on the Fenwick Gauge, was a little scrapy. 250 cfs was OK low runnable. 350 cfs was a great level. Watch for wood. As of 12-7-13, all wood was avoidable.

default user thumbnail
11 years ago

Ran this section yesterday after doing the Cherry River at 5 feet and rising (Fenwick). It was awesome and fast. I was expecting a class III+ run so was impressed by how steep and consistent the rapids were. There were pour overs and holes all over. We agreed it was more of a class IV+ for most of the rapids at this level. Fanny Packer

default user thumbnail
Robert Farmer
13 years ago

Caught this 4/16/07 at a moderate level, I think (14+ and dropping at Craigsville). The descriptions of this that I've read really don't do it justice. This is a 5-star creek! It's certainly one of the best of its size in WV!! It's much better than the N. Cherry, nearby, so definitely catch this if you can! In fact, I would say that, if you have only one day to paddle in WV, and this is running, paddle it! As noted above, you can't see the best (or worst) rapids from the road, so don't get overconfident when you're driving up!! I felt that the crux rapid was not the Rockpiles, but a fast, sliding section that blindly lunged toward some good-sized boulders, 2.6 miles down from the put-in, where the creek turns sharply left-then-right, which I think is below the Rockpiles (?). Because of the blindness, I eddy-hopped down the right, after unfortunately catching a left eddy, which didn't help. I would say that this one and Rockpile #3 might be Class 5-, not for danger, but technicality. Rockpile #1 is best finished on the right; Rockpile #3 is best finished on the left, due to a blind pourover boulder on the right (or I guess you could boof right, but scout first). It's almost non-stop action! You'll probably welcome a break! Cherish the rest spots! Also, there is one 3-foot ledge farther upstream that took me by surprise (probably "Big Ledge Rapid" in the photo section), when you can see the tops of the telephone poles near the road: I didn't expect it, and ran out of scouting room, so went down the middle, pitoned on some submerged rock, slid over, and barely made it slowly through the hydraulic. Going to left or right might have been better. This creek builds up slowly, gets cranking, lets off a bit, and then builds up again. I highly recommend it, especially for Class 4 boaters who are wondering if they're ready for Class 5. I measured a distance of 4.1 miles from the put-in to the takeout bridge. I wouldn't bother running down to the Cherry, as it looks scraggly and bony. Thanks to Cahil for the shuttle!

default user thumbnail
Karl Whipp
16 years ago

At medium flows, this creek reminds me of Smokey Mountain boatin on a class III-IV level. There are not a lot of big boulders. Very few, actually. This creek is made up primarily of small boulders just under the surface. It's pretty constant bee-bop with few pools. Although it only comes in at about 85 feet per mile, the gradient is pretty constant. Most everything is read-n-run on the fly, with the exception of the Rock Pile rapids...mainly Rock Pile 3. This one often has wood in it and should be scouted.

This is an excellent introduction to creekin run. It can easily be broken down into an eddy to eddy to eddy run. This also makes it a great "tune-up" run early in the season after a long winter with little boating.

I have not been on it at a level where it goes to class V, but I would certainly like to get on it at some point in the not so far off future.

default user thumbnail
Joseph Greiner
18 years ago

Ran this on 4/28 at 4.25' on the putin gauge and 4.0' at Fenwick.Craigsville 16-18' Cranberry 7.0 and Webstr Springs 8.5. This is way HIGH level!!

Ran it again on 4/29 2.75 at put in gauge. 2.1 at Fenwick 5.1 Cranberry 8.0 Webstr Spngs and 14.7 Craigsville. This was a class III- to class III+ level and a lot of fun!!

Gage Descriptions

The new USGS gauge (above the putin) is being calibrated with the paddlers gauge on the old bridge piling downstream of the putin. As we get more data, the gauge range will be updated.


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.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

Cheat Canyon Settlement Reached; Land Set Aside for Endangered Species

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


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1200952 01/23/12 Charles and Nancy Brabec Updated for new USGS gauge
1200919 01/05/12 Charles and Nancy Brabec New USGS gauge
1192186 09/26/06 Charles and Nancy Brabec n/a