Roaring Creek - County Rd. 3-12 to Cheat River

Roaring Creek, West Virginia, US


County Rd. 3-12 to Cheat River

Usual Difficulty IV (for normal flows)
Length 6.1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 139 fpm
Max Gradient 220 fpm

upper section Roaring Creek

upper section Roaring Creek
Photo of Jen Huebschman by Jeff Macklin taken 09/20/03 @ too low

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03070500 7.50 - 11.00 ft IV 00h30m 5.11 ft (too low)

River Description


WARNING: The river left hillside below the putin was recently logged and the wood situation in the top of this creek is significantly more pronounced because of it. The creek needs to be cleaned out as of April, 2006 and it may take time for debris from the logging operation to fully blow through the upper reaches.

The price of admission to this gem of a rhodedendron flush is an impossibly narrow and fairly steep top section that is scrapy Class IV at lower levels and pushy Class IV when some water is poured into it. The mile-by-mile gradient, courtesy of TopoZone, says it all: 220, 155, 85, 150, 140, 100. This creek seems almost too small when you launch near the roadside tire dump off Brandonville Pike. It’s not. But it is steep, blind and you can expect to be dealing with wood. Running the first half mile can be a time consuming endeavor. As the gradient suggests, the creek does ease up. But it never gets very wide, has few comfortable eddies and the rapids rarely let up, even in the easier sections. Overhanging rhodedendron is both a blessing – you can grab it to stop - and a curse – it will take your head off if you don’t duck fast enough.

This creek invites disagreement over difficulty rating. Running it is a serious undertaking, yet it has a softer side. . The IV rating on this page matches the recent edition of A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to West Virginia by Walbridge, et. al.

The Rapids:

The steep stretch at the top starts right below the putin and it’s hard to break out the details here. There are usually a couple trees down, though, so be on the ready. When you portage around them, you might as well scout from river left to see what’s downstream. Though the drops are steep and wide, the creek is too small to have many lines. Watch for undercut rocks and a river right sieve halfway through this section. The climax up top is a tight, dynamic hard right to left turn in front of a big boulder.

When things ease up the creek speeds through a narrow course with the rhody hanging low. It’s still pretty blind and single file with plenty of space between boaters is the only way down. At some point, the gorge opens up and the creeks changes gears for a while. Midway through this section is an island with a low footbridge in the left channel. The landowner has put a nice warning sign on the creek as a courtesy (I’m betting there’s a story behind that). The right channel is an alternative, but you may end up portaging anyway because of wood.

A III+ ledge series marks the beginning of another gorgy section, this time with ledgy characteristics. There is a large submerged tree in the right side midway through this set of drops that pinned a boater in 2003. It was still there in March, 2004. Below here is a little more boogie before a high ledge – 6 to 10 feet – must be negotiated. Take a look because the best lines change with the water flow. After a couple slides, there is another larger ledge of about 6 feet which can also be run in different places, depending on the water. Below here are a number of slides and ledgy holes. One of the slides is fairly long and the gradient drop is impressive, so take a moment to look upstream. The creek settles to open boogie for the final stretch down to the Cheat River. Watch for a retentive playhole just above the takeout bridge.


You’ll come to the takeout first when driving south to Albright, WV on Rt. 28. Park at the rafting outfitters (you might want to ask if they are busy). Take Coal Lick Road up the hill along the creek (right across from the outfitters). Bear right at the unmarked junction, then turn right onto Brandonville Pike (CR 3-12). Look for a couple pulloffs on the right just up the road a bit. You’ll know you are in the right place if you see a roadside dump along the creek at one of the pullouts.

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2006-04-25 10:36:51

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Typical width and scenery up highPhoto
0.4Typical of the upper partIVHazard Photo
4.5Ledge in lower sectionIIIWaterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Typical width and scenery up high

upper section Roaring Creek

upper section Roaring Creek
Photo of Kurt Huebschman by Jeff Macklin taken 09/20/03 @ too low

See any eddies? How about some Rhody? There are long stretches like this.

Typical of the upper part (Class IV, Mile 0.4)

upper section Roaring Creek

upper section Roaring Creek
Photo of Jen Huebschman by Jeff Macklin taken 09/20/03 @ too low

This picture was taken in the middle of a long series of steep drops. Trying to remember your moves here is a challenge

Ledge in lower section (Class III, Mile 4.5)

lower section Roaring Creek

lower section Roaring Creek
Photo of Jen Huebschman by Jeff Macklin taken 09/20/03 @ too low

This is one of the smaller ledges in the lower section. Anyone have a picture of the big ones?

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 15 2010 (2866 days ago)
Mark CooperDetails
Ran the upper and lower section on 3/12/10. Painted gauge on Route 26 was reading about a foot when
we put on and 1.5 feet when we took off. Upper section was still low (much of the snow had not
melted up top) but the flow significantly increased after Lick Run Road (lower section) due to the
tribs adding more water. There was lots of wood (portaged about 8 times). Be very careful if you
decide to run this one. Like many of the microcreeks in the area, there are many fallen trees due
to an unusually harsh winter.
June 5 2006 (4246 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
I did this by putting in at the confluence with Lick Run. It's not clear from the above description
where others put in, but the section above this confluence would require a tremendous amount of
water---above here is very tiny.
In 2004, a large tree blocked the entire creek--don't know if it's still there.
I wouldn't call it one of the 50 classics, by any means. The good section was very brief.

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