I just want to emphasize that the low-water bridge should be portaged. The tubes that the water passes through are very small and poorly-placed for aspirant boaters. There are no eddies close to the bridge, so try to eddy out rather far upstream, pretty much as soon as you see it.
I ran this January, 2007. This is a very enjoyable run. I put in at the Post Office, but there were two logs that I needed to squeeze under, so putting in farther downstream might be better, although I felt better safety-wise with my car at the Post Office.
The first two ledges are somewhat blind, but I ran them successfully on the right. After a while, you get a feel for the slides and ledges. There are rarely any obstructions at the bottoms of these ledges, but sticking to the main current is best. Usually a small change of direction will be adequate to avoid any surprises. There were two islands that had logs on the left; staying to the right at islands will help to avoid logs. There was one cross-stream log that I was not clever enough to avoid--but it did give me a good chiropractic adjustment when I slammed into it going pretty fast; I didn't even flip, although I had to chase my paddle. Most of the creek is Class 3---which is kind of unusual---but there are two places that most certainly are not. There is a Class 5-ish tree-and-log-jam against a cliff on the right in a steep, narrow section. Best to portage left, although this may not be easy. Also, toward the end of the run, after a long, moderate section, including the aforementioned midstream log, there is a large, 90-degree left turn at a large, dark corner where the creek suddenly starts dropping faster. Around the corner is a narrow slot of about 12 feet that could easily jam with logs. Best to anticipate and scout. I took out at the campground, near the entrance station, after about a half-mile paddle in fast water with nice waves on the Elk, which seemed to be the best alternative, by far, and quite enjoyable. I shuttled using my bike via Camp Creek Road on river right (logistically simple), which goes up to Amos Run upstream of Erbacon. It was 14.5 miles to Erbacon, and should take the average kayaker about a half-hour in a vehicle, depending on how fast you want to drive on dirt; I drove very slowly because my shocks were shot. Oh, and about 3/4 or so through the run, there is a low-water bridge. At low water, it's obvious; at higher levels, maybe not.
This gauge should be viewed as an indicator. Used with knowledge of the rain pattern should yield good results, however. Although Laurel Creek is an Elk trib, the gauge is upstream on the main stem of the Elk. We ran it at 7 ft. on the Webster Springs gauge and had good water.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
A Tennessee kayaker was rescued after spending 8 hours trapped behind the veil of Kanawha Falls, a 15 foot drop located below the confluence of the New and Gauley Rivers in West Virginia. The victim was paddling alone; a fisherman spotted his loose kayak and notified authorities. Top expert kayakers from Fayetteville, WV teamed up with WV-DNR officers and first responders to locate and rescue the man. Read their remarkable first-person accounts in the American Whitewater Accident Database: https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Accident/detail/accidentid/112642
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!