Big Creek, West Virginia, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||80 fpm|
|Max Gradient||130 fpm|
|GREENBRIER RIVER AT HILLDALE, WV|
|usgs-03184000||10.00 - 20.00 ft||II-IV||01h15m||4.97 ft (too low)|
When I ran this creek it was at the absolute minimum level. I had to walk the parts where the creek spread out in rock gardens. The Greenbrier at Hilldale was running somewhere in the 10-12 foot range and was dropping fast, but like all creeks the best gauge is visual, you just have to see it. Also remember that this creek is channelized so make sure that it is really too low before you walk away from a great creek.
Directions to this creek are fairly straightforward. It is just outside of Hinton on Rt. 3 alongside the Greenbrier River. If you are coming from Hinton it will be your first left across an old single-lane bridge crossing the Greenbrier on CR 13. Follow this road until you get to CR 10 - Big Creek Rd. The take out vehicle should be parked alongside the road here but there is little room. I ran it solo and just hid my boat in the weeds and walked the two miles back up to where I put in. You might want to consider doing this unless you can talk one of the local landowners into letting you park on their property. Going up Big Creek road you will get an idea of how much elevation the creek drops from how steep the road is. The creek is in the gorge on your right. Follow this road until you reach its first bridge. This is the only place where you can put-in without trespassing.
I havenÂt run the upper section but from what I looked at from the road it is just rock gardens. When you reach a cement bridge that the creek is pouring over, this is where the good stuff starts. There are numerous slides/chutes that are all very fun and straightforward and require no detailed description. After this goes on for quite a while the creek will start to make a sharp right-hand turn. There is a pool here so get out and scout. You will see a large horizon line. This is a class IV waterfall that drops about 8 feet and then squeezes you between boulders. At higher water there would be a sneak line on river right, but as of right now (5-22-03) there are no open lines due to a river wide strainer at the exit. This was the only section that I was unable to run on my first descent. (Maybe this summer IÂll sneak up there with a chain saw.) Almost immediately after this there is a 4ft waterfall. Most of the water follows a river left channel that falls into the deep pool at the bottom. Follow this line but be wary of your head and left elbow as the channel is very close to the bordering cliff. After this waterfall there are really no major rapids until after you pass the huge cliff wall on river left. Shortly after you pass the cliff start looking out for this rapid. It is a very peculiar rapid with some potentially nasty undercuts. The majority of the water flows parallel to a ledge until this ledge decides to stick its undercut face out 90 degrees to the current. At the level I did it I just stuck my hand out and pushed off but at higher water it could get dangerous. The fun is almost over now. After a few rock gardens the creek will pass through a railroad tunnel and head out to its confluence with the Greenbrier.
You must take out after you are already in the Greenbrier unless you want to bushwhack your way through 100 feet of briars. Note: At low water intermediate boaters could run this creek, but at high water advanced paddlers only need apply. A person also might want to take some elbow pads for this run.