Photo: John Fralick squeezes between the rocks at KeyHole.
Map of Area
Put-in on river right downstream of Belington or in Belington on river left.
Alternate put-in 3.2 mi downstream at fish camp on river right.
Two take-outs available:
River right 1 mi downstream of confluence with Buckhannon River or
At the mouth of the Buchannon River, walk 3/4 mi up RR tracks to covered bridge over the Buckhannon.
Noteable rapids in first half of the run are Key Hole and Hartung Falls, about half way down you encounter the confluence with the Middle Fork River. Those that run the Middle Fork run the lower part of the Tygart Gorge which contain three major rapids. S-Turn, Shoulder Snapper and Hook(left hook).
An outfitter is now running shuttles on weekends. He will pick you up below Hook on the Tygart and bring your group back to Audra. He charges by the shuttle not by individual. Contact - Tygart River Outfitters
Keel Hauler Rating - 28
Hook Rapid is probably the most dangerous rapid--a 90-degree left turn. The end of the rapid has a ledge that is backed by a rock on the right, and people have swum underneath undercuts on the left. Stay about 1/4 over from the left side as you make the left turn. Maintain momentum.
If the boulder splitting the current at Shoulder Snapper is well covered, go for the boof. It is one of the coolest launches you will find.
There is a large log in the main entrance to Keyhole rapid. 11/5/05
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Bottom of S-Turn
Top of S-Turn
Hartung a.k.a. Hard Tongue
Keyhole, Tygart Gorge
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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!