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Difficulty I-II(III)
Length 7.6 Miles
Flow Range 5.75 - 8.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 50 minutes ago 5.42 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 10/11/2018 8:06 pm

River Description

I am going to describe this section putting in 3+ miles upstream of riverton at Judy Gap. This will give you an 11 mile run. the 7.6 mile run is too short for a day run on this swift stream.
The first 7 miles of this run are characterized by cobble bar rapids, some fairly steep and technical but never exceeding class 2. Around mile 6 you will see a horizon line with a giant eddy on the right and a nice lunch spot.This 2-3 foot ledge (lunchstop ledge)is best run near the right bank.It is a straight run through the chute, but partially submerged rocks must be avoided both upstream and bordering the chute.
After the lunch spot you have a relaxing mile and a half or so until the next road bridge is encountered.Directly under this bridge is where things start to change with a faster current,higher waves, and more confused currents.In the next 3 miles you will run lots of small ledges, some in quick succession,at all angles to the river.This is a very interesting stretch of class 3 minus, with ledges running parallel,perpendicular,and catawompus.after the last of these ,it's a mile to the take-out.
The scenery on this river is nasty near the banks with old cars and chicken farms, but fantastic views of North Fork Mountain and Spruce Mountain may be viewed in the distance.
A cabins gauge reading of 5.7 should be the minimum fun level. there are many rock gardens that would require much more maneuvering and many gravel bars that would require dragging at lower levels.
At the time of this writing there is no problem with wood but the river is small enough that trees are bound to be found sometimes.At high levels the low-water bridge at the take-out could pose a problem due to strong currents.The river rocks and Shale are particularly sharp, grainy, and hard on boats and your body if you swim !!
There are two parking lots at Judy Gap, use the downstream left one, it is much easier. Take-out at the low-water bridge in the Seneca Rocks visitor center with ample parking.
Seneca Shadows campground has sites for quiet groups.
Yokums has camping,motel,cabins, and restaurant.Staying at their Princess Snowbird campground is very popular with boaters and may become a bit rowdy.

Email me if you have any comments or questions on this river.

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

Rough correlations between Cabins gauge in feet vs cfs:

5.0' = ~400 cfs, 5.1' = ~450 cfs, 5.3' =~527 cfs, 5.5' =~654 cfs, 6.0' = ~1130 cfs, 

6.5' = ~1,620 cfs, 7.0' = ~2,370 cfs, 7.5' = ~3,110 cfs, 8.0' = ~4,070 cfs


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.

John Duke


Tony Allred Jr