Tygart Valley - 6. Valley Falls to Hammond

Tygart Valley, West Virginia, US


6. Valley Falls to Hammond (Valley Falls Section)

Usual Difficulty II-IV (for normal flows)
Length 1.5 Miles

sweet picture

sweet picture
Photo of Mike Kemp by Dan Anderson taken 08/29/04 @ 4.12

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03057000 3.70 - 4.70 ft II-IV 01h07m 5.52 ft (too high)

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

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-08-18 10:03:45

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1Valley FallsIVPortage Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.8Hamburger HelperIV+Hazard Waterfall Playspot Photo
1.8Twist And Shout TakeoutN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Valley Falls (Class IV, Mile 0.1)

Valley Falls

Valley Falls
Photo of Dave Woten by Craig Wood

Hamburger Helper (Class IV+, Mile 0.8)

Hamburger Helper (the Sneak Line)

Hamburger Helper (the Sneak Line)
Photo of Craig Wood by Dave Woten

Probably the ugliest looking drop in the Valley Falls stretch.

Twist And Shout Takeout (Class N/A, Mile 1.8)

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.

User Comments

2011-04-22 03:38:37 (1755 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
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!"

2009-09-08 06:12:17 (2346 days ago)
x (1)
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.

2005-05-18 20:55:39 (3920 days ago)
Matt SchaferDetails
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'.

2004-08-19 11:21:30 (4192 days ago)
Russ CondreyDetails
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--

2003-07-02 15:12:38 (4606 days ago)
Jason RobertsonDetails
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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