I would say the ideal level is 800 - 1000cfs as its real technical and not too pushy. I've heard at 2000+ it gets pretty big, but it has some great, low-stress, technical elements that you lose at higher flows. If everything else is too high, this is a great fall-back and you won't be bored. The shuttle is pretty tricky if your trying to cut out the flatwater though as it is miles of a dirt road through clear-cut land.
A good put-in: from takeout bridge, head east for a quarter mile; turn left up Corliss Rd. Turn left at top of hill. Go left at T. Veer right, through Corliss. Follow road over hill to a tiny creek down by the river. Hike ~1/2 mi to Meadow. This cuts out ~6 miles of flatwater, and allows ~one mile of warm-up. ---Robert Farmer
I've done the Upper meadow twice. The first time at about 1250 cfs and the second over about 2200 and rising. At the first level, I'd say the river was class III- lower class IV.
At the higher level it was very difficult and I'd say it was in the solid class IV - lower class V range. A swim would have really been a bad idea at higher water.
A fantastic run at 1200 cfs+ though.
Paddled the Upper Meadow today with 764 cfs on the Nallen gauge. It was comparable to about 850-900 cfs on the old Mt. Lookout gauge, which is in the ballpark of the USGS data that states the Nallen gauge is about 80% of the old Mt. Lookout gauge. Mid-700's was getting scrapey. I'd say mid to low 700's on the Nallen gauge is the low end of good.
The road to the put-in is in very good condition. It's been graded, and most of it has new gravel on it. Unless there's snow on the ground, I'd drive a two-wheel-drive car on it.
The Mt. Lookout gauge (USGS site 03190400) appears to no longer be available. However the Nallen gauge (USGS site 03190000) is available and is closer to this section. A reduction of the USGS data for 4/1/2013 to 3/30/2014 shows the flow at Nallen was 80.0 % of the Mt Lookout flow when mt Lookout was between 1000 and 2000 cfs.
In Corrine Walter's posting, I meant to say, "drive west" for 1/4 mile to Corliss Rd. Oops! Also, at good levels, I consider this to be the ultimate Class 4---great fun!!!
Anything below 1000 and the run becomes a good run for someone getting into creeking. At the higher levels the holes become house sized with little to no eddys. BAD place to swim.
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Brandon Holley boofs on the upper meadow
dropping the weir at 1300 cfs
Bernie dropping the Weir
Brisk winter day on the Upper Meadow
Styling it up in a Prijon Tornado
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If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
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)
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.
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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