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Difficulty II+
Length 5.8 Miles
Flow Range 5 - 7 FT
Flow Rate as of: 26 minutes ago 4.42 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/05/2006 8:32 pm

River Description

Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.

Rapid Descriptions


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Jesse Sweat
14 years ago

got to look at this run on the way to the back fork section, would be a great lil run for beginers or intermediates. At 6.4 it looked like almost constant 2+ rapids, perhaps a few class 3 due to the wave sizes but looks like a fun lil rolercoaster ride with little manuvering required.

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9 years ago

Robert Farmer---I did this about 12 years ago, when I ran all 3 sections together, but, based on a recent visit, I think there are 1 or 2 small ledges and then there is just a long, easy (but scenic and twisty) float out, usually with a good current. It's probably perfect at calm levels for beginners, but, at the time, I was getting impatient to take out. I seem to remember some greenery-covered cliffs where the river bends in various places. These rivers, the Elk and the Back Fork have intact watersheds, so the water is a very pretty, clear green---the Back Fork more-so than the main Elk. So it is an unusually pretty river, with a quiet dirt road nearby for access---what more could you want? Across the footbridge at the put-in, the sycamore tree there is believed to be the largest in WV, perhaps more than 18 feet in circumference (?). We saw it from the far side of the river, and it did look unusually large. Anyway, this section would make a nice summer tubing trip, probably.

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John Duke
10 years ago

see the link for a video of this rum..........

Summary of Gauge Readings

The Webster Springs gauge is located 23 river miles downstream of the put-in on the mainstem of the Elk. Thus this gauge can only be used as an indicator.

There is a visual gauge on the mainstem of the Elk on the CR 15/4 bridge pier at Cherry Falls. This visual gauge will read 4.0' lower than the Webster Springs gauge at recommended paddling levels.

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
AW Gauge Info
4.42 ft 00h26m n/a

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.


No Accident Reports



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Tow Tether Danger Highlighted by Recent Accident

2019-02-25 19:53:07-05
Charlie Walbridge

Nancy Kell, a very experienced Mid-States kayaker, died on February 24th after flipping in a Class II rapid on West Virginia's Red Creek. There were a number of strainers in the vicinity above and below the water. One of them snagged her tow tether, pulled her out of her boat, and held her under water. She was with a very experienced crew but they could not reach her quickly enough. Equipment snags are a real risk. In the light of this accident I strongly urge anyone using a cowtail, pigtail, or tow tether to recheck your setup, and to consider whether wearing a tow tether makes sense. Be certain that your tether releases cleanly at both ends. Do not attach the front carabiner to a non-releasable point, like a pocket or strap. Ms. Kell did this, and it may have been a contributing factor. Apparently many current rescue PFD designs to not feature a front release point! Do not attach a tether to the rear of your PFD with a non-locking carabiner, as that may inadvertently clip into a rope. The tether should fit very snugly, without sagging, but as the photo shows Ms. Kell did that, and it did not protect her! The harness release should be quick and foolproof. Practice harness releases under pressure before using it on the river. Finally, remember that any additional strap is a potential snag hazard. Ask yourself if the usefulness of a tow tether is worth the risk, especially on small, strainer infrested creeks. Carry it in a PFD pocket or dry bag if necessary. Click for a link to the report in the AW Accident Database. (Jeff Macklin Photo)


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Gauley Fest - September 13-16, 2018 - Summersville, WV

2018-09-04 07:58:00-04
Mark Singleton

Get your groove on baby! This year Gauley Fest is a 60’s themed event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. To memorialize that historic event we are flashing back to another era for a 60’s throwdown. Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world.

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2018 Letter To Gauley Boaters From The NPS (WV)

2018-08-21 10:07:00-04
Mark Singleton

American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River. Enjoy your paddling season on this classic whitewater river. As in past years, American Whitewater has leased the field above Masons Branch, also known as the Legg field, for overflow parking.

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Cheat Canyon Settlement Reached; Land Set Aside for Endangered Species

2007-02-13 00:00:00-05
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.

Turner Sharp