Kayaking New River Gorge for beginner?

Hey, I’m a beginner to kayak. I have never been on whitewater, but I’ve paddled calm lakes and rivers easily. I bought my first kayak this summer (a crappy Perception 9.5 from Dick’s). It is 9.5 feet.

Basically, I’m looking for a cool place to kayak before I go back to college at the end of the month. Something with really cool scenery. I saw an ad for New River Gorge in West Virginia. From what I gathered, the lower river has difficult rapids, but the upper river is somewhat calm? Anyway, is this an ok place for me to kayak as a beginner? I’m pretty confident, but I’m worried that I’m overly-confident, you know?

If not, can anyone recommend any places? I live in Maryland.


it could be doable, it depends on the
stretch of river and the water levels. I’m assuming your looking to do some whitewater because all the runs have at least a little bit. It also helps to go with some experienced folks, learn to wet exit, and add some float bags to your kayak. wvwa.net has a message board that could help you. Register to check out up coming trips or post when you want to go. You should also get familiar with American Whitewater’s river gauge page as well.

New River

Too late for this year, but for next you should get a copy of A CANOEING & KAYAKING GUIDE TO WEST VIRGINIA.

It’s in its millionth edition, a standard.

Even the 20 miles between the VA line and the Bluestone Lake at Hinton have some ledges that will hurt you when the water is up a bit. Below Hinton do not go without proper experience,gear and company.

Try the upper Greenbrier River, in Pocahontas Co. Scenic, mostly undeveloped and easy to paddle. Prettier and wilder than the New above Hinton.

But when you are starting out more experienced company is always a good idea where ever you go. You’ll avoid falling into a hole and you’ll learn how to paddle.

Don’t underestimate your first boat. It knows more than you. And if you stay with the sport, you’ll get many more.

Why are you asking this on the
Wilderness Tripping forum? To get easy answers? Go put it on the Paddlers Place Discussion Forum. The fact that you can’t see that paddling the Gorge (which I have done) is not a “wilderness” issue suggests that you don’t belong there yet.

New River
You are probably accurate in describing your self as overly confident. Most serious paddlers have some dead friends. It is not all fun and games but a serious sport that requires skills, practice and a team of people to help you.

South Branch of Potomac
I recommend the south branch of the Potomac. You can start anywhere south of Petersburg and end up as far as Romney with not many whitewater challenges, but a few. I don’t know what its like further than Romney. I have only done it from May to September, so I don’t know this early but I don’t figure it is too much trouble. There are Outfitters like Eagle’s Nest Outfitters (www.eaglesnestoutfitters.com) and The Trough General Store (www.wvcanoerentals.com) that may be places to get questions answered. They are both run by very nice people.