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 00h23m 4.98 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 5 2018 (319 days ago)
Jeff MacklinDetails
Take out = 39.505296, -79.641818 ........... Put in 1 = 39.526880, -79.576286 (short hike to avoid
some wood as of 2-17-18) ............ Put in 2 = 39.526101, -79.570932 (use this, after the wood is
cleared, more parking here;)
March 5 2018 (319 days ago)
Jeff MacklinDetails
2-17-2018 Helpful hints for running Roaring Creek near Albright, WV. Using Steve Blade's video from
2-17-18 ............ ( )............ &
recently posted photos ( ) ,
Jim Snyder & I were discussing this run. Jim Snyder noted some time-marks on this video & commented
on photos with some rapid names and pointed out a few hazards Below are condensed excerpts from our
discussion: New & updated info on 2-28-18, is marked with a "-+" 1:45 -+ important place to go way
right if you ever run low flows. 3:36 -+ Pretty sure that is "Paradise Rhodes"- named for the
rhododendron tunnel effect, but the rhodies don't grow over the creek the way they used to 3:45 -+
At lower water, there's a terrible unrunnable trap exactly where you guys ran towards the left
there. It is totally unnoticeable at your level. But if you go left there at lower levels, you'll
have that trap named after you! There is basically a 3 rock pin, in waiting - unrunnable at low
levels! 4:11 - Narrow Bridge, almost to the end of the sub-micro-creeking "upper section" …
confluence of Lick Run at 4:40 4:42 - big rock marks entrance to Cyclops. 4:46 - is the top of
"Cyclops". We've called it "Cyclops" for 20 years. 4:56 - The "Cyclops Sieve" is at the base of the
big rock on river right. There's a lot of water going to the rock and a good chunk goes down into a
sieve. The boat/camera almost runs over the sieve. It looks a lot worse at lower water. 4:57 -+
additional info from Jim: There's a tiny stick showing the spot. Eight out of ten runs, there's
wood hooked up in there. At lower water, yesterday there was nothing at all there. I guess it's not
as bad a sieve as I thought, but it's always better to scrounge left and stay safe from everything.
-The 4' ledge that follows waaay down at the bottom is called "What the Hell" b/c there is a bad
pinning rock hiding in the foam just right of center- where all the water goes. 5:27 -+ "What the
Hell", The piton/pinning rock (is under water) is right behind that tiny stick stuck in the top of
the ledge, just 4' to the left of Steve's line. If anyone ever hooks up on that rock, expect a
tough extraction. Steve's 'run out plan' after the ledge, is correct ... hedge right ... if the
right shore is clear of dangerous wood. Lots of wood catches there. 5:35 -+ Is the drop we call
"Left" for obvious reasons- but when I blue angel w/Attila he often uses the right line to try to
pass me there. 5:45 -+ And, that next drop is "Right". 6:04 -+ to 6:12 - Ledge 1, right line. Nice
big boof on the left line ... if there is no wood! 6:51 -+ Ledge 2 7:17 -+ "Slide" 7:40 - "Fun Key
Hole", (in video, Steve runs right boof) Jim says, "we run that center route at all levels- very
narrow but clean". Don't take the left slot, because there is a hidden piton and that slot tends to
collect wood. If you have enough water, the right flat rock boof is good... clean landing. Hope
this helps for clean & fun runs on Roaring.
March 15 2010 (3230 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 (4610 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.