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Difficulty V
Length 5 Miles
Flow Range 420 - 1500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 55 minutes ago 111 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 09/13/2018 1:51 am

River Description

Gradient, mile by mile: 60, 150, 110, 70, and 50 (in the last 0.8 mile).

That might not sound too impressive, but the creek is populated by terrible undercuts. Three fatalities, all excellent boaters, are listed in the Accident Database. The Lower Meadow has a scary reputation for a reason!

Listed below are some of the major rapids. There is much "boogie" water that ranges in the IV to IV+ range. Do NOT try this run without a guide that has made many, many trips down this river. There is not much room for error.

Directions to th put in: Coming from Fayetteville, go north on rt19 untill you drive over the Meadow River. Right after the bridge there will be a place in the median to bust a u-turn. After making that u-turn park next to gaurd rail on the well worn strip. From Summersville just take rt 19 south and stop and park before going over the Meadow River.

Directions to the takeout: The good thing about paddling the Lower Meadow is that you get the Upper Gauley thrown in at no extra charge. You will end up in the big pool above Lost Paddle. For more information on rapids, great directions and important info, click over the Upper G page here.

Rapid Descriptions

Put in

Class - III+ Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
A walk down a steep old 4-WD trail. Rocks are slippery. Once at the bottom you must bush-whack to the river. Once to the river you will see a calm flowing stream, but do not let that fool you. Around the first bend is the first class IV+.

Rites of Passage

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.2
The lines are different depending on the water level. At most flows there is a boof on the right then dodgin' holes. At lower levels some run next to the HUGE undercut on the left, not for the faint of heart. Any trouble here, it is advised to take out on the right and walk back to your car. It only gets harder from here!

Hells Gates

Class - 5.2 Mile - 0.5
After some boogie water, you will come up on this monster. Scout and set safety on the right. This is a deadly rapid. The clean line is easy to see, just don't mess up. You can start walking on the right and follow thr trail all the way past Comming Home. The trail stops there and goes down a steep hill to the top of Sieve City. Eazy and short walk.

Brink of Disaster

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.8
A short but powerful rapid, critical to run clean. This rapid rates a V due to what is below. Only about 100 yards down stream is Comming Home. You must not swim. There is a small f-me hole at the top, boof to avoid. If you flip, the rock at the bottom is waiting for you. There have been many close encounters with this rock. It tends to hold you there upside-down and not want to let go. Catch the eddy on the right immediately after running this drop to portage Comming Home.

Coming Home Sweet Jesus

Class - 5.3 Mile - 0.9
This one now really rates a VI rating since the flood in late 2003. This is one sick rapid. Terrible to look at and even more terrible to run. Local boaters do fire up the line on the left but there is NO room for ANY type of mistake. Walk on the right.

Sieve City

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.2
Just as the name says, sieves! There is an terrible undercut rock at the bottom and the main flow goes right toward it.

Heavy Water

Class - IV Mile - 1.7
The norm, undercut rock abound!

Lets Make a Deal

Class - IV+ Mile - 2.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Has a nasty eddy above the the main drop that tends to hold you as you look at the sieves downstream.

First and Second Island

Class - 5.0 Mile - 3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
This is another deadly rapid, hit your boofs to avoid a head-down pin.

Sliding Board

Class - IV+ Mile - 3.8
Narrow slide with a nasty hole on the right and a nasty undercut rock straight ahead.

Double Undercut

Class - 5.1 Mile - 4.2
Once again, just as the name says. There is a 8ft boof next to the first undercut then you must dodge holes and keep from getting surfed into the second undercut.


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Bryan Tudor
15 years ago

Just did the lower at around 430 cfs. Great fun! You wouldn't guess it but the river is plenty deep in most places. Hells gates is alittle dry. So is Sieve City. Brink becomes the hardest rapid, At least thats what I felt. Has one must make move then it's cake. Comming Home is a mandatory portage.

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Eric Henrickson
15 years ago

My last run was in Sept 2004 @ 1000CFS. I believe the drop is called Landslide, or is just after a landslide on the left. There used to be a rock that made a good boof in the left center at the bottom of the drop. It now seems to have been turned up, making more of a clamshell. All nine of us made it over, with one scary close call. We didn't have the ability to wave off those behind us. I can only imagine this rock would be much more dangerous at lower levels. We chose the right channel on subsequent runs.

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16 years ago

Some More on guage and other changes New

Forum: BoaterTalk
Re: Lower Meadow Warning hydraulic New
Re: Hey Bryan about the gauge ShawnMc New
Date: Dec 14 2003, 4:25 GMT
From: jbseay

Hey Shawn, JB here. I talked to Todd Richendollar some about the gauge, and he said he hadn't been out there and checked it, but we all agreed today that the Guage is reading low.
Bryan and I agreed to post this info once or twice more to get the word out to non fayettevillains

-The bulk of the rearanging seems to be cobble sized stuff, which has deepened up some drops and shallowed others.
Some large rocks have moved though.

-The change in Coming Home is big. the eddy level in there today looked the same as it use to at like 400 cfs. Except we figure it was 1400 or 1500 cfs. we were pretty far into the drop before we saw the log, so I think it is important to let people know about both the log and the new seive in the eddy, so that no-one accidentally commits and get screwed.

-The main entrance to Seive City (drop immediately below coming home) has opened up, plus the boof ledge in the drop below Seive City has gotten significantly taller, and today it had a 3-4' high boil downstream of it. weird looking. felt funny to me. numerous other little things have shifted around in boogie rapids, nothing big, but noticeable.

-Todd suggested that Sliding Board hadn't changed but that it was just high, making the hole grabby. Luke was able to drive hard left and skip over it on a tounge coming down that side. I'll have to see it sometime at lower water to know for sure.



Gage Descriptions

The ideal level is from 1000cfs down to 700cfs. Under 700 the river gets small but is still tons of fun, and over a 1000 the undercuts are better padded out but you are looking at really pushey water. Most mortals consider 1500 the max but there is always a few out there that have made runs over 2500 cfs. The gauge is now reading low. Most people tend to agree that you have to add 150 cfs to the gauge now.

420-700: Slow but fun.
700-900: Fun level, Feels more like a creek.
900-1500: Gettin scrary! Pushy!
1500-?: You must be crazy!(or really, really good.)

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  
1996-09-09 Medium Fatality Other Read More
1989-09-22 Medium Fatality Failed Rescue Read More
1989-09-12 High Fatality High Water Read More



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.

Bryan Tudor


Geoff Calhoun


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1192201 12/24/05 Bryan Tudor n/a
1210336 09/13/18 Geoff Calhoun GC its class 5