Paddled this on 5/6/2018. Blackwater gauge at Davis was around 880 CFS when we put on, and rose to around 940 CFS by the time we took off.
Red Creek is continuous and somewhat shallow in places. It felt a lot like the Savage at normal release levels, but beefed up a bit and without all the nice people to cut the wood out for you beforehand. The largest set of drops I remember were about halfway down the run: the river curves to the right and drops over a set of shelves and ledge holes. After that, there's a short break as the river curves back to the left, followed by a straight shot for 100 yards of large offset holes. This section comes to a close when you punch a fairly sticky, almost river-wide hole.
There was a good amount of wood in the run, and though most was avoidable, I portaged one rapid because of it. It is important to be comfortable with boat scouting in continuous Class III on this run; it's almost guaranteed that there will be wood somewhere in it.
This is a run where you need a decent combat roll. It's shallow enough that you wouldn't want to spend a lot of time upside down, and swims will be long and cold. Eddies are very small and sparse, so getting an empty boat to shore is challenging.
Yes, at low levels this is really an enjoyable class III run, not much more. There are few tricky spots in the first two miles, where the channels are very tight and you have some make some quick turns to avoid the boulders at some minor ledges. Then, around midway, there is a long rapid of low ledges and hydraulics, which is probably the most interesting stretch of the river. You should continue to the lower (old) bridge, or even onto the Dry Fork, because there are good rapids until the end.
I paddled this May 9, 2012. The water was too low up at the takeout for the upper section, but I put in at the lower road bridge, and the water was barely adequate for a day of new river exploration, checking visually. The Hendricks gauge read 3.9. Parts of this run were nice, and several were too bony, but would have been nice with 6-12 inches more water. The first part had a lot of small boulders. There were several logs to dodge, as well as a massive log jam that needed to be portaged, but which would be possible to sneak to the right with perhaps 2 more feet of water, although that might be risky. Downstream of the highway, there is an island. Due to low water, I went left, whereupon I immediately pinned on a small log that I tried and just failed to claw my way over. Downstream still alongside this island, I broached on a very annoying pipeline---this was rather frightening, and definitely to be avoided; I swam and felt lucky to have avoided death/injury/etc. while keeping all of my gear. With another six inches of water, the pipeline might be under water. Probably best to go right of the island, although the pipeline is probably over there, too, so watch out! Be alert! Somewhere around here (I think, upstream of the highway) there were some beautiful, low-angle sliding rapids on a solid rock streambed. Finally, just above the Dry Fork of the Cheat confluence, there is a super-nasty, evil-looking pourover/hole on the left side of the river against an undercut cliff where the creek jogs right a bit. Definitely avoid this!! All in all, I enjoyed it, but more water would have eliminated most of any unpleasantries that I had. With more water, I can definitely see how this could be solid, continuous Class 4; difficulty depends largely on water level, to answer the comment below mine a bit. I saw very little in the way of Class 2.
After running this river 10/27/2007 I think that it is difficulty scale is a bit too high. Most of the river is a class II-III, with nothing even approaching a class IV drop. The vast majority of the rapids were of the loose cobble-bar style, reminiscent of the approach to Cucumber on the Lower Yough.
9 years ago
Based on a recommendation by Steve Ettinger. Please note that this is an "indicator gage," from a nearby stream in the same watershed. These indicator gages should only be used as a guide--a means to determine whether it's even worth looking at the stream or not.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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Left Branch of Red Creek
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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