This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-III
Length 6.3 Miles
Flow Range 1600 - 4070 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 58 minutes ago 90.7 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 02/06/2020 7:33 pm

River Description

This section is fairly continuous class I-II rapids with a few approaching class III especially when complicated by strainers. At medium-high flows, a couple of the rapids have waves large enough to nearly swamp open canoes without full-boat floatation. The main gauge (North Fork South Branch Potomac at Cabins) is located many miles downstream so some guesswork is required to know the flow level. There is no wireless coverage throughout the whole North Fork valley so it's hard to check the gauges online while in-person scouting. The scenery is pretty mountain views in a pastoral setting. Noteworthy wildlife (e.g. bald eagles, river otters) is common. As of 2019, the river has at least two sets of wires strung across it - presumably to keep cattle constrained. The wires were both duckable at medium high flows but be aware. The bridges are easily passable at medium high flows.

It's easy to park and put-in directly at the confluence along Nance Run Rd. For the take-out, there is parking just downstream of the Snowy Mountain Rd. bridge aka Cherry Grove.

Rapid Descriptions


default user thumbnail
Jared Espley
1 year ago

On 21April2019, we ran this section. At the time of put-in, the Cabins gauge read 7.4 FT or about ~3000 cfs. It had rained hard the night before and the gauge was slowly dropping from a peak of 8 FT. The flow level was about perfect -- plenty of water to pad rapids but not so much to make the waves too large. We paddled a tandem, open canoe with float bags in the stern and bow but otherwise open. We nearly swamped twice from waves washing into the boat. In the tandem open canoe, we're intermediates and we found the rapids fun but challenging. About half-way through the run, we encountered a set of double metal wires across the river. We couldn't eddy out in time in the class I-II water and we were forced to drive under the wires. We just barely passed, lying flat on our gunwales. A second single wire was encountered later and was more easily duckable.

Gage Descriptions

Rough correlations between Cabins gauge in feet vs cfs:

5.0' = ~370 cfs, 5.1' = ~425 cfs, 5.2' =~480 cfs, 5.3' =~550 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



article main photo

Cheat Canyon Settlement Reached; Land Set Aside for Endangered Species

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.

Jared Espley


Tony Allred Jr


John Duke


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1212012 04/23/19 Jared Espley updated description
1214286 02/06/20 Tony Allred Jr updated description
1193995 03/10/04 John Duke n/a
1210422 10/11/18 Tony Allred Jr 10-11-2018 - added correlations feet vs cfs
1212008 04/23/19 Jared Espley updated description
1212009 04/23/19 Jared Espley updated description
1212010 04/23/19 Jared Espley updated description
1212011 04/23/19 Jared Espley updated description