Elk River, Back Fork - 2. Confluence of Sugar Creek(Skelt) to Big Sycamore(Breece)


Elk River, Back Fork, West Virginia, US

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2. Confluence of Sugar Creek(Skelt) to Big Sycamore(Breece) (Three Falls Section)

Usual Difficulty II-IV (for normal flows)
Length 4.6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 55 fpm
Max Gradient 55 fpm

Ledge on Elk Back Fork


Ledge on Elk Back Fork
Photo of Rick Schafer by Jeff Macklin taken 04/02/04 @ low

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
ELK RIVER BELOW WEBSTER SPRINGS, WV
usgs-03194700 5.80 - 7.00 ft II-IV 00h47m 5.19 ft (too low)


River Description

Logistics: Take WV 20 north out of Webster Springs, cross the Back Fork, and bear right on CR 24 (Back Fork Elk River Road). You'll head up the hill and then after the pavement ends, dip back down along the river. After about 5 miles you'll reach Sycamore Park. There is good access a couple hundred yards downstream of a foot bridge. To reach the put-in, head back to WV 20 and go 11.2 miles north to WV 18 (Holly River Rd.). Take this road through the town of Jumbo and 3.5 miles from WV 20 bear right. It's another 2.7 miles down to the put-in where the road first comes along Sugar Creek which is a tributary of the Back Fork. If If Sugar Creek is too low, you can turn around on CR 22 and go back up the hill a short distance until you quickly come to the second dirt road heading downstream in reference to Sugar Creek. The first dirt road is at creek level and only goes a short distance down Sugar Creek. The second dirt road will have a black mailbox on it. It is not a driveway. You can even see it on any WV Atlas and Gazetteer. Take it and after about 1/2-3/4 mile, you will come to the Back Fork.

Description:
The run starts out with a fun ledge on Sugar Creek and then you quickly join the Back Fork Elk. The first half of the run is mostly class II and it's a scenic float through mellow rapids. Just as you're beginning to wonder when the action starts, you arrive at the the "Three Falls" section where you will find six major (4-12') ledges. At levels below 6.2' the top half of the run will be a little boney and you might scrape a bit over some of the ledges, but they are still fun.

There are some more fun rapids and then a couple more ledges as you cross under a road bridge and then the foot bridge to Sycamore Park. The take-out is on the right.

Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-05-19 20:58:41

Editors


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 17 2013 (1987 days ago)
Chris PreperatoDetails
Not sure if it's the same log, but, there is definitely still at least one piece of nasty wood
shortly after the drop on Sugar Creek. River drops over a slide banking left into a pile of trees.
There may be a line on the far right at higher flows, but, the consequences of a missed line would
not be pretty. As for the run itself, there are several pieces of wood in the first two miles, most
avoidable with a creative line or two. The three falls themselves are mostly clear, save for a log
on the far right of the 3rd falls that is mostly out of play. One of the ledges shortly after has a
nasty log jam on the left with branches hanging out into the center. Definitely use caution there.
From there down all the wood was easily avoidable. Wouldn't be surprised if a high water event
shifted it all around though. There were plenty of logs just hanging in from the bank
March 6 2012 (2394 days ago)
Charles and Nancy BrabecDetails
From a friend: There is a really nasty strainer log right below the first drop on Sugar Creek.
Makes it unboatable until it is gone. Anyone starting up there should not run without first getting
out to look at it. There is lots of other wood in the creek but managed get around everything else.
Just keep your eyes sharp.
May 1 2008 (3799 days ago)
x (1)
its been about four years since i have run this sect. but if you haven't run it it is a very
beautiful paddle with views around every bend. I would highly suggest paddling this sect and and it
is a very easy paddle by the way.
March 17 2003 (5671 days ago)
Tanya and Brian TalbertDetails
More on the strainer alert:

The strainer that Mike Mullins referred to is still there. We were on the run for the first time
and did not know how soon the Three Falls section was coming up. As mentioned, the strainer looks
completely passable on the left side. But what looks like water going over the top of the strainer,
actually seems to be water pillowing up on a root ball where it looks passable. Three very
competent paddlers in our group wound up going under this strainer because they thought the route
was open, and two of them wound up swimming. It was possible at that water level (1150cfs Elk R
below Webster Springs) to limbo under the far right side of the strainer, but if the water had been
any higher, that option would not have been there. As mentioned, the portage is easy.

Also- if you put on at Sugar Creek, there is another strainer to contend with shortly after the
8-10 foot ledge on the creek. There is a fallen tree extending across the river from the river
right bank, and another fallen tree just behind it, extending from the river left bank. At the
level listed above, it is possible to eddy out to the left of the first strainer and ferry between
the two, but it is a tight move. Might be a good idea to portage this, too, if the level is any
higher.
March 10 2003 (5677 days ago)
Charles and Nancy BrabecDetails
Copied from WVWA Message Board

Strainer alert--Backfork of Elk
Posted by Mike Mullins on 3/10/2003

Approximately 200 yards b/4 first drop on "Three Falls Section of Back Fork" there is a
river wide strainer. It looks like it has been there for a while, but the river left side appears
to have picked up several limbs in the recent storms. Because river left side is just at water
surface, at higher water, river left may be hidden and/or look passable. Its not, and probably
won't be anytime soon.

There is an easy portage on river left.

May 9 2002 (5983 days ago)
Joseph GreinerDetails
A group of 6 of us ran this on May 1 2002. GAUGE INFO We ran it at 5.8 and falling slowly on the
Webster Springs gauge. The book says 5.8 is minimum and we agree. We did it at that level and had a
lot of fun. But I would NOT do it at 5.7 or 5.8 and falling fast. I also ran it in the past at 6.1
and found that level to be a lot of fun also. So the guidebook suggestion of 5.8 to 6.2 I agree
with on the low side...on the upper end...well that's up to you.
PUTIN. If Sugar Creek is high enough...put in on Sugar Creek. Otherwise turn around on CR 22 and go
back up the hill a short distance until you quickly come to the SECOND dirt road heading downstream
in reference to Sugar Creek. The first dirt road is at creek level and only goes a short distance
down Sugar Creek. The second dirt road will have A BLACK MAILBOX on it. It is not a driveway. You
can even see it on any WV Atlas and Gazetteer. Take it and after about 1/2-3/4 mile, you will come
to the Back Fork. We drove downstream about 100-200 yards and parked in a wide spot on the road
just before a church. No sweat!!
THE RIVER. Delightful to the max!! The guidebook talks about three falls (indeed the section is
known as the "three falls" section. Well, they are all runnable and we ran all 8 of the 3
that we found!! We won't tell you more than that because part of our delight was coming to them and
figuring out how to run them. We took at at the the Big Sycamore on river right after parking in
the parking area by the footbridge to the Big Sycamore. Unfortunately as of May 2002, the Big
Sycamore looks Big Sickandmore.


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