Tygart Valley River (Valley Falls)
|Stretch:||Park and Huck at Valley Falls State Park|
|Difficulty:||Class III to IV|
|Flows:||~600 to 1500 cfs (I bet it is runnable higher… just need safety and a boof). Visit the AW flow page|
|Put-in:||Valley Falls State Park|
|Shuttle:||0.25 miles (5 minute hike) or 0.5 miles with car.|
|Season:||Year Round though it gets high in the winter|
|Featured in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
What a nice little way to break up our drive from Knoxville to the Yough. We left Knoxville after work on Thursday and drove to Summersville dam for a night of free camping. Waking up early we headed up for a quick stop here before finishing off the day that afternoon on the Upper Yough.
The falls here offer a great introduction into waterfall running, but also have been the site of many beatings and one fatality at high water. Like any waterfall, it is always best to ensure you have safety set as waterfalls can become quick sticky for a boat and a person at the base of the falls.
We started off running some laps on the far left side of the top falls before working back to the slide on the right and the non-vertical falls in the middle. After our fill, we headed down to the lower falls. I went first down the far left side and got a back ender requiring a quick roll to back paddle away from this one. I think this one would be hard to run clear as the angle is a bit tricky. Also note the rocks with sieve potential just the left of the hole. We then worked our way to the middle boof channel for a few laps on the clear falls. Great time.
These waterfalls offer a nice height to practice boofing shear ledges and are relatively forgiving. But note that you want to be sure to drop off the correct location of each drop as pin spots and bad holes are located in other spots.
My take away, this was a great little stop… if you find yourself near Morgantown WV I would highly recommend a quick little huck session. Also, there are a few rapids downriver that can be run to make a 1 mile long run… but if you only have one car the falls will be plenty fun on their own.
And to note, we had what I was told a medium flow at 900 cfs.
Thanks to Karl Whipp for his contribution of photos.
- Upper Falls (III). Three lines exist, scout before running them as of course flows can change the hydraulics. We ran a far left boof. This line had easy safety locations (use) but also had a pin spot 5 feet to the left of the good line. At higher flows this side also gets a decent hydraulic that should be inspected. I then headed over to the far right slide, easy slide just stay left as the right side has a room of doom and a bad undercut. After that I ran a small middle slide that just needs to be hit left of center to avoid an overhanging rock.
Lower Falls (III to IV+). The bottom falls is taller and offers a greater challenge if so inclined. I decided to run the far left line which is a slopping falls into a big hole. I was afraid I wouldn’t find a good stroke here to keep my nose up and sure enough my fear was realized. I plugged and backendered. Thankfully I found a quick roll and back paddled away. A moment later and I could have been worked. There was also a boof in the middle but the hole was strong and the distance was tough for safety, so we passed and headed to the right of the island spout which offers a relatively mellow 10 foot boof left of center in the channel. This is a great falls for practicing boofing and setting your angle as you extend out from the lip. And easy to walk back up for laps.
For more details on the run, see the AW write-up...
Directions: 17.3 miles south of Morgantown on Highway 79, take US-250 south towards Grafton. Follow for 9.9 miles before turning left at Co Rte 14/5. In less than a mile stay left on Lost Run Exn. In just over a mile turn left on Linn Chapel. In 1.6 miles turn right on Valley Falls Rd. Basically when in doubt, follow signs to Valley Falls. Make sure to sign in at the top of the hill before dropping down to the river.
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