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.
The Greenbrier gauge is just to be used as a guideline. Visual determination is always the best method. This creek is fairly chnnelized in its lower section so it can be run at pretty low levels.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Typical Big Creek Rapid
Big Creek exit
Chute on Big Creek
Falls on Big Creek
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.
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)
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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