Stony River - 1. Vepco Dam to Route 50

Stony River, West Virginia, US


1. Vepco Dam to Route 50 (Upper Stony River)

Usual Difficulty III+ (for normal flows)
Length 7.6 Miles

"Mr. Stony"

"Mr. Stony"
Photo of Bill Blauvelt

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01595200 250 - 1000 cfs III+ 7y9d20h16m 5 cfs (too low)

River Description

The river starts out very gently meandering down the narrow, technical, rocky gorge.

Warm water releases from the Power Plant make for some great winter boating! We ran this river after two months of solid sub freezing temperatures in WV, and the water is about 45 degrees because it was used as a coolant for the power plant just upstream. We did not see a spec of ice on the river all day. Before we put on, we looked at the nearest river (Abrams Creek) and it was frozen.

Abram Creek, WV
Difficult Creek, WV

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-11-19 19:19:01


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.
September 9 2012 (1870 days ago)
x (1)
Coming back from running near by Abrams creek, I was stopped by police in Mt. Storm. They were
looking for boaters that had put on at Mt. storm power plant(upper stony) A plant worker had called
the police to report trespassing, and the police had attempted to apprehend them. I later talked to
the group that had paddled the Stony that day, and they had been unaware of the potential dragnet.
Might be an access issue for AW to explore
November 19 2009 (2895 days ago)
Richard GrapeDetails
THE VOYAGEUR On June 6th, Ned Howenstine (K), Joe Sullivan (K), David Kogut (OC1), Pete Dragon (K),
and my- self (K) met at the Myersville McDonald's to dither about what to run that day. While there
had been plenty of water earlier in the week, our options were reduced by this Saturday to only a
handful of class 3/4 rivers. We decided to check out the Upper Stony River in WV which flows out of
the Mt. Storm reservoir and power plant operated by VEPCO. I figured the level would be in the 300
- 400 cfs range which would have made for a good run. It turns out that the Stony was around 330
cfs that day. After setting up shuttle vehicles at the Rt. 50 bridge takeout, we headed up to the
put-in. Earlier in the week, I had seen a warning posted on AW's site about VEPCO calling police to
chase down a group of boaters running Upper Stony. They eluded the police. I had assumed that
perhaps they had trespassed on the dam itself, not having had any access problems on that river
several years ago. Well, I soon found out differently. When we arrived at the put-in, there were
blue No Trespassing signs every- where. It would be very hard to convince anyone that you hadn't
seen them if they caught you run- ning the river. Being the wimps that we were, we hightailed it
out of there and proceeded to set up shuttle to run the lower Stony into the North Branch of the
Potomac. By this time it was already noon, so we had to hurry to pull this off. Earlier in the
week, Rick Koller had told me about finding a takeout on river left in the Potomac State Forest in
MD. I didn't have any other details except thinking that he had told me he could see the mouth of
the Stony from the take-out. Well, we spent an hour driving there and trying to find a take-out
from which we could see the mouth of the Stony. Turns out there is no such place. We first drove to
a spot where one of the park roads loops down to the North Branch but at a point about 1 to 2 miles
above the Stony (where there was a bit of a climb up from the river to the road). Getting
desperate, we back tracked up the mountain sev- eral miles and drove down one more park road along
Laurel Run to where it dead ends. After ford- ing Laurel Run, Ned found a trail that goes about 200
yards down to the North Branch right where there is the remains of an old cement bridge consisting
of two bridge pil- ings and one span between them on river left. Turns out that this is a bridge
that used to cross the river at a town labeled Schell on page 27 of DeLorme's WV mapbook. This
takeout is below Rattlesnake and the two big ledges below Rattle- snake or maybe two miles below
the mouth of the Stony. We finally got back to the rest of the group waiting at the put-in about an
hour and a half after we left or about 1:30. We had a great run down the lower Stony and the North
Branch. Our only difficulty involved a couple of strainers we had to contend with on the Stony. The
following is the warning Ned wrote about the strainers that I posted on the AW page for the lower
Stony River: "On June 6, 2009, with the Stony gauge at about 330 cfs, our group encountered a very
dangerous strainer situation in a rapid ap- proximately five miles into the run. This is a mile or
so after an earlier river wide log/strainer that we port- aged on river left. The extreme danger of
the five mile strainer ex- ists because there are two separate strainers in the same rapid and the
second strainer cannot be seen from above the rapid. The first strainer in this rapid is a large
tree visible from upstream that ob- structs most of the river, blocking about 3/4 of the river
starting on the river-right bank. The second strainer is downstream of the first strainer in a
channel on river left. This river-left channel flows around the left end of the first strainer but
is extremely dangerous because most of the current follows along the river-left bank into a 1-2
foot drop where the second strainer is located. This second strainer is difficult to spot and can
only be seen by getting out of your boat above the rapid and scouting from the river-left shore.
What also makes this situation dangerous is that the river-left channel appears to be a potential
way to avoid both strainers by following the small part of the current that does not flow down the
river-left shore but instead flows sharply to the right just above a boulder that guards the right
side of the drop with the sec- ond strainer. However, this part of the channel is narrow with swift
current. It is also shallow and has Lower Stony River, 6 June 2009 by Keith Merkel PAGE 5 July 2009
THE VOYAGEUR several exposed and partially exposed rocks, making it impossible to take effective
paddle strokes. On our trip, four strong paddlers attempted this route and all had major problems.
All hung-up on rocks and two were almost pulled into the second strainer back- wards. After our run
we talked to another group who had run this section ahead of us (see the June 8 post). One member
of their group got caught in the upper river-right strainer and was held under water for some time.
(Although he survived, I did not hear how he got off the strainer). That group told us they had
tried unsuccessfully to remove the upper strainer. They did attach a silver foil streamer to a
small tree on river right about 6' above the ground near the first upstream strainer. This streamer
is visible from upstream and the first strainer itself is visible from well upstream. There is an
easy carry around both strainers on river left." When we got to the North Branch, it was booming.
It was just under 5 feet when we got there and much bigger than some of us had wanted. This was why
we had spent so much time trying to find a take-out at the Stony's mouth, so we could avoid such
big water. This was much bigger than David had signed up for in his open boat. It was also much
bigger than I had dressed for thinking I was doing an easier run down the Upper Stony. But, I have
to give credit to David and the group: we made it down in fine shape except for one kayaker swim
between Rattlesnake and the next big ledge. Rick now claims that he never saw the mouth of the
Stony and the access he found was the same Laurel Run access that we wound up using. It turns out
that other boaters know of this takeout as well, as is indi-cated by the following shuttle
description in AW's Comments for the lower Stony that I have revised: "SHUTTLE: One aspect of this
run is that if you don't know where to take out, you must run 10 miles of the Kitzmiller section of
the North Branch to reach your shuttle car. However, there is an obscure takeout for the Stony
about two miles below its confluence, pro- vided you know how to get there. This access is on river
left at Laurel Run, across the river from the "town" of Schell: - From the Rt 50 bridge over the
Stony, head west to Gormania and turn right onto 560. - Turn right onto White Church - Steyer Road
(sign for Laurel Run/Wallman recreation area). - Veer left onto Audley Riley Road. Road turns to
gravel and you enter the state forest. - Veer left at split and follow gravel road to dead end
turnaround next to Laurel Run. You are about 2/10ths of a mile from the North Branch Potomac. To
get to the river, ford the creek at the fiber optic cable right of way and walk down to the river.
There you'll see old bridge abutments and the cable right of way posts as indicators of the
takeout, which is shown as Schell on page 27 of DeLorme's WV mapbook. *NOTE*: It is advisable to
walk down to the river and take serious note of where the trail to the takeout is - this is NOT a
good area to get hopelessly lost in." All in all, it was another great run. We didn't finish until
7 PM. We gathered at the Mountaineer Cafe just south of Keyser, had a great dinner, and socialized
there until they closed at 10 PM. For those of us that then drove home, it was a late arrival, well
after mid- night.
June 5 2009 (3062 days ago)
x (1)
They will never catch us, Ha ha ha.
March 21 2007 (3869 days ago)
Daniel SmithDetails
Great run on them cold winter days. The 50 degree water is wonderful when you have an air temp
below 20. The run is fairly easy with a few rapids with pinning potential. The only other concern
would be wood. Everything is boat scoutable. A must do if your looking to get into creeking.
March 21 2007 (3869 days ago)
Daniel SmithDetails
Great run on them cold winter days. The 50 degree water is wonderful when you have an air temp
below 20. The run is fairly easy with a few rapids with pinning potential. The only other concern
would be wood. Everything is boat scoutable. A must do if your looking to get into creeking.

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