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Difficulty III-V
Length 11.8 Miles
Flow Range 3.50 - 9.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 35 minutes ago 3.49 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 05/20/2016 7:40 pm

River Description

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


Photo: Colins Drozdowski at Instant Ender. InstantEnder320.jpg


Rapid Descriptions


Class - III+ Mile - 3.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Hard Tongue

Class - IV Mile - 4.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Middle Fork Confluence

Class - Mile - 8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


Class - IV+ Mile - 9.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Shoulder Snapper

Class - IV Mile - 10.1


Class - III+ Mile - 11.2

Buckhannon Confluence

Class - Mile - 11.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


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Robert Farmer
12 years ago

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.

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Steve Kroser
7 years ago

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.

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Rhett Flowers
13 years ago

There is a large log in the main entrance to Keyhole rapid. 11/5/05

Summary of Gauge Readings

Belington Gauge

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
AW Gauge Info
3.49 ft ℹ️ 00h35m n/a

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.


No Accident Reports



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Tow Tether Danger Highlighted by Recent Accident

2019-02-25 19:53:07-05
Charlie Walbridge

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)


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Gauley Fest - September 13-16, 2018 - Summersville, WV

2018-09-04 07:58:00-04
Mark Singleton

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.

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2018 Letter To Gauley Boaters From The NPS (WV)

2018-08-21 10:07:00-04
Mark Singleton

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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Cheat Canyon Settlement Reached; Land Set Aside for Endangered Species

2007-02-13 00:00:00-05
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.

John Kobak