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Difficulty II-IV
Length 1.5 Miles
Gauge TYGART VALLEY RIVER AT COLFAX, WV
Flow Range 3.70 - 4.70 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 6.32 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 08/18/2010 10:03 am

River Description


This is a fun run for when not much else is running. Its sometimes called the last water in West Virginia, after everything else has dried up. It's a relatively stress-free way to get some vertical action. It's a shoulder shuttle: park, put-in, paddle, perambulate to previous point of paddling put-in. Due to an agreement between paddlers and park personnel, you have to sign in before running the Falls.
The sign-in area is the superintendent's office, on river right. The putin coordinates given in this website will direct you to the office.
Putin and takeout on river right. Please don't hike back on river left.
If you go as far as Twist And Shout, takeout out under the railroad bridge (39.40187, -80.09554--see the Map tab). Please don't walk back on the active rail line; it's dangerous, and the park superintendent will not be pleased. (Thanks to Jeff Macklin for this information and for the lat/long coords that should help paddlers stick to river-right boathumpin'.)

Location: From I-79, take Exit 137, then 310 south for 7 miles. Turn right at the Valley Falls State Park sign. Go two miles to the park entrance. Park at 39.38897, -80.08733.

Paul Herring sez: "The state park named for the Falls is accessed from the river-right side of the US 50 bridge in Grafton by turning on Rt 310, which parallels the Tygart down to the park. The gauge to look for is at Colfax...You want to find the Colfax road for shuttle if running the whole thing, which includes Hamburger Helper and several other wierd rapids but is mostly class I/II the last couple of miles. A rough dirt road runs from downstream along river left, but the park road is much better access."

kdavis wrote, in Boater Talk 2002-08-11(http://boatertalk.com/forum/BoaterTalk/218315):
"Thought i was going to drown today. Pretty scary. Second time down through the falls at Valley Falls. dropped the top falls, and went sideways. Side surfed into the curtain. Windowshaded, couldn't roll up. Punched out, and went deep. I guess I got recirced about 4 times, being held down around 30 seconds or so each time. Finally came out far enough past the boil to grab the grab loop on my friend's boat. needless to say, this scared the hell out of me. Iwas completely exhausted after all this. All I know is, I don't wanna go through that again. 'They' say Valley Falls is as safe as it gets for learning, but it still has quite a bite if you f*up. Got back on the pony and dropped the lower falls. Clean. But it took a while to stop shaking."

Even something with a relatively harmless reputation still has a nasty bite, if you screw up. The top left side has a reputation for spanking the errant paddler pretty hard.
Take this section seriously, especially at high water. This was the scene of a drowning at 6.75 feet (very high) in 2005. Read the accident report here.

There used to be a race here in the late summer. Read I Play Outside's coverage of the 1998 race, with more than your fill of pictures!

Valley Falls State Park

Rapid Descriptions

Valley Falls

Class - IV Mile - 0.1

Hamburger Helper

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.8
Probably the ugliest looking drop in the Valley Falls stretch.

Twist And Shout Takeout

Class - N/A Mile - 1.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Take out under the railroad bridge and walk back. Please don't use the active rail line to walk back; it's dangerous and unnecessary, and it'll cause needless conflicts with Park personnel.

Comments

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Adam Lewis
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3 years ago

I was there playing at low water--running the second drop, river right "spout" backwards and such. I had no thought of any consequences at such a low level. I was wrong. I went too far left and upside down on dropping the spout on a third run. The boil pushed me and my boat up against the rock, preventing a roll and it wasn't letting go. I swam out no problem. However, the boil/hydraulic kept both my boat and paddle for about 30 minutes against the seemingly partially undercut rock face. (The paddle was not visible and only about 3-4 inches of the boat's edge was visible.) Since the boat seemed stuck for good after 30 minutes, I went to tell the park ranger that there was no body in the boat and no need for any alarm. Well it was at this time that the feature finally decided to spit the boat and paddle out—while I was 100 yards away. I had to retrieve it about 1/4 mile downstream pinned in a slot. And I never found the paddle. While I still think there isn't any significant danger to your person at the really low levels, these falls aren't "consequence free" at any level.

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Robert Farmer
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8 years ago

I don't know why anyone would say that this is a "safe" place to paddle. The hydraulics, although they can be trivial at low levels, are potentially deadly at higher levels. It all depends on the level, and knowing the differences requires experience. As my biochemistry teacher likes to say, "The dose makes the poison," meaning that a little of almost anything, like water, might be safe, but a lot of something, especially water, can still kill you. For example, the Russell Fork is great fun at 150 cfs, but should you be there at 1500+? Safe to say, "No!"

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n/a
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10 years ago

Tried to run Valley Falls yesterday (11/28/09). Gate was closed. Called the ranger who told us park was closed. Park was still open if you want to walk the 1 mile down the road and back up again, but there is no car access to the falls. Probably best to call before heading there to see if the gate is open.

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n/a
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10 years ago

The ranger gave me that line last year about the access road being inaccessible which turned out to be quite false. It was pretty easy to find with a little poking around on the far bank. I think he is just trying to avoid having any issues there with paddlers getting in trouble.

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10 years ago

Ran Valley Falls this afternoon, and had a blast. Good, clean fun. We spoke to the ranger about running the whole section, but apparently the take out is completely INACCESSIBLE. The road to the take out was washed out and has not been repaired. just fyi.

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Tom Halladay
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11 years ago

Why isn't Twist & Shout listed on the rapids? Ran it this weekend with Jeff's clinic, it was great. The walk back is a real pain, but well worth it.

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Matt Schafer
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14 years ago

Not sure why people refer to this run as a "safe" or a "beginner run". Ran it at 4.9' this past weekend. Main river left channel of the first falls was easy to boof; but major recirc if you mess up - I give it a III+.

Ran the river right spout on the second drop. Easy and consequence free if you mess up. I give it a III-. Then we ran down another little III- rapid.

Next we came to Hamburger Helper. At that level a solid Class V. This rapid (including the sneak) is probably as tough as anything I have paddled on Upper Gauley or Upper Yough at normal flows. Dangerous recirc and pin potential. Ran it through the sneak and had to roll up (3 times).

Then we came to Twist and Shout. Scouted it for a while and decided not to run it (even though I have ran it seveal times before without problem). There was a big pillow rock near the bottom of the drop that sent about 45% of the river into a bad pinning "room of doom" situation. It looked really nasty. Have to say Class V at that level.

Overall, I'd say Valley Falls is a III-V run at 4.9'.

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Russ Condrey
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15 years ago

Ran this for the first time last week at ~4.5 on the gauge and found it very nice... I don't agree with the IV rating on the falls as we found it very straight forward... In fact the only must make move, gravity took care of!! ;-) I also have some questions about the max that is listed on this page as we were running above the MAX and the Ranger (who was VERY nice) said the locals run it considerably higher???? (My guess is that this was copied out of a guide book sometime) It sure looked to me that it could be run with a lot more water in it... HH is definately a IV and dererves the name... UGLY... The Ranger only asks that kayakers sign in before running... 10 miles exactally from the interstate... A great way to kill a couple of hours and test your wings ;-) --russ--

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Jason Robertson
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16 years ago

ACCESS ISSUE: On July 2, 2003 an AW member called to alert us that new steel gates have been erected on both sides of the Valley Falls section of the Tygart. Access to the falls in the State Park is still open; however boaters wanting to run the section below now no longer have access to the take out. These gates are allegedly the property of Martina Mine.

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Matt Muir
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17 years ago

kdavis wrote, in Boater Talk (http://boatertalk.com/forum/BoaterTalk/218315):
"thought i was going to drown today. pretty scary.
"second time down through the falls at valley falls. dropped the top falls, and went sideways. side surfed into the curtain. windowshaded, couldn't roll up. punched out, and went deep. i guess i got recirced about 4 times, being held down around 30 seconds or so each time. finally came out far enough past the boil to grab the grab loop on my friends boat. needless to say, this scared the hell out of me. i was completely exhausted after all this. all i know, is i don't wanna go through that again. 'they' say valley falls is as safe as it gets for learning, but it still has quite a bite if you f*up. got back on the pony and dropped the lower falls. clean. but it took a while to stop shaking."

Whoa.

Even something with a relatively harmless reputation still has a nasty bite, if you screw up. The top left side has a reputation for spanking the errant paddler pretty hard.

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description


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Date Flow Result Factor  
1965-04-17 High Fatality High Water Read More

Alerts

News

article main photo

Cheat Canyon Settlement Reached; Land Set Aside for Endangered Species

2/13/2007
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.
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Matt Muir

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1192247 09/02/04 n/a n/a
1198086 08/18/10 Matt Muir Added abstract and directed paddlers to hike on river right.