The first 8 miles of this section are nice at 550-800 cfs. There are only a few houses along the whole section. There is a narrow chute on river left seven miles down from the put in that should be scouted for strainers. There are trees jammed on river right just before the chute. Just after the chute there is a ledge that may be run or avoided on the extreme left. There are takeout possibilities right after the ledge. Dirt roads are on both river banks for a couple hundred yards.
I ran this yesterday at about 5.9. We started from a campsite along Shavers Fork Rd. It is two bridges after the old stone bridge. This section has a lot of really good waves, but watch out for what some call Channel Falls. It is a little bit more than half way to Porterwood when Shavers Fk Rd. (river right) gets real low and close to the river. It is hard to see the ledge when you are coming up on it until it is too late, but it was about a 3 ft. drop. You can avoid it by keeping far river left, but it is fun to go over when the water is high enough. We took out at the church in Porterwood (river left). Great couple hour trip for an afternoon!
The minimum value on the range is too high for some purposes.
I paddled the first 7 miles of this section in open canoe (big old 120 lb solo 16' Mad River, with 40 lbs of camping gear) on June 21 at around 4.5' (325 cfs). It was a bit scrapy in a few spots and surfing opps were pretty limited, but it was very pleasant Class II canoeing, pretty continuous with short pools.
I paddled the next 4 or 5 miles the next day at even lower water 4.3' (~230 cfs), same rig but without the camping gear, taking out on the right just above Porterwood. This was scrapy in a half-dozen wide shoals, but I never had to get out of the boat, and there were some fun ledges and some pretty country.
Overall, I would say that if you are interested in a pleasant Class II canoeing trip with camping gear, this is a very nice choice down to 4.5' and maybe a bit below. The road on river right stays near the river and is in good shape, easily passable with some care in a Subaru Forester or the like, and there are several alternative put-ins on the right side. If you want peace and quiet, you might want to avoid this section on summer weekends due to ATV activity, but I saw not a single vehicle of any type on the river right road on Monday.
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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.
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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