New river gorge WV for beginners??

Me and a friend who are beginners at kayaking. Actually only looking to fish and have read alot of success stories about the smallmouth fishing in New River gorge in WV. We are looking to make maybe a july trip to the area and just thought I would put up a discussion to see if some experienced paddlers could tell me about the river. Only looking to do a day trip and doing alot of fishing while there. So would be looking for great places to get in and out of the river possiby just a 10 to 12 mile stretch. Also the most safe parts if that is possible. Any help or info is appreciated!

if you are truly beginners I don’t really think the new is the way to go if you are looking to kayak sections. It has been running high all spring but typically drops in July and August. Almost all sections have some rapids. Calmest stretches are Hinton/Bellepoint to Brooks Falls and from Sandstone Falls down to Glade Creek. Even those stretches have class II rapids… The New is a drop pool river, so typically there are pools to fish and kayak in before the next rapid. The Grandview Sandbar Campground (has a pool for a couple miles downstream to McCreery access and Army Camp (has a really big eddy) so you can camp in those areas and fish and kayak between rapids provided the river is at low summertime levels… In general you are going to want a kayak or canoe with flotation if boating on the new. Experienced rec boaters have done various sections at lower water levels skirting around the biggest rapids but they are experienced… Most of the commercial fishing trips are done in rafts, occasionnally see a dory. If you want to learn how to kayak the new I can help. Check out for more info. The emphasis will be on kayaking rather than fishing and I’m gone for most of the month of July (kayaking in Maine) but belong to a local club that helps others learn to ww kayak. In fact, this weekend we are doing a clinic on the greenbrier river, possibly a better venue for the beginning kayaker. We have some very avid kayak fishermen in the club as well. Hope that helps.

We will be in kayaks. Was just curious if there was parts that was much easier. Things i have read say the south end has much more dangerous rapids. Just looking to not get killed. Floatation devices on a kayak? Can you explain?

Also can you tell me difference in classifications? You say class II how do rivers classify?

Certainly don’t mean to insult you but your lack of basic knowledge of moving water classifications and flotation tells me right away you should not begin on the New. Even class 2 can be very dangerous for paddlers with no moving water knowledge or skill. Look for a river that is described as flatwater with no rapids…or a lake. Get some instruction before attempting moving water with rapids.

Ok stevet…so when does one start to attempt rapids…if you dont mean to insult anyone then why try to treat grown adults like children? I have been in tons of flat water in this kayak. Cumberland river runs all thru KY. I just dont classify the small rapids and shoals that we go thru as dangerous. Again if you read the post asked for the easiest sections because we are looking to fish not going for the sport of kayaking whitewater. If it takes such a high degree to know this “basic knowledge of moving water or floatation” then why did you not post the answers to the questions and try to help someone instead of makig smirk comments. What a genius

And thanks Tdaniel. I believe we will try some of those sections that you had listed. Very helpful. said:
We will be in kayaks. Was just curious if there was parts that was much easier. Things i have read say the south end has much more dangerous rapids. Just looking to not get killed. Floatation devices on a kayak? Can you explain?

While you made no mention of the type of kayak you paddle, many recreational sit-in kayaks do not have two sealed bulkheads, which will keep the boat floating when capsized. That can be remedied by securing flotation bags in the bow. They’re sold at Amazon, NRS, Austin Kayak, etc.

Here’s a link which outlines the differences:

Thanks rookie. My kayak is a sit on. Perception pescador. So i dont guess there is no help for a floatation device for this type of kayak. Thanks for the info

SOTs don’t sink like a kayak without two sealed bulkheads when capsized. You don’t need flotation bags. Have a fun and safe trip.

Forget the section of the New River Gorge . It is mostly class III to IV and is only good for experts.
Do the portion in NC. It is a great portion for small mouth bass and at the most has class I and some mild II’s.
I have been kayaking for thirty years and have done some III’s and I wouldn’t go near the New River Gorge.

jack L

Thanks jack l!

“New River Gorge” is a bit of a misnomer term. While certainly the New is one of the older rivers in the world, and has cut a gorge through a rising peneplain through its entire course in wv., Some people use the term to identify one specific stretch of river “Thurmond to Fayette Station”. It is commonly refered to as “the gorge” and has a multitude of rafts that enjoy a section with class 3 and 4 rapids during the summer months. Locally, anything upstream of Thurmond (all the way up to bluestone lake) is called the “upper new”. The “upper New” at normal summer levels has four class III rapids (grassy shoals, quinnamont, ledges/slide, and silos) spaced out over 20 miles). At higher water levels some of the rapids get quite large- think three and four foot waves. Interestingly enough three of the four are completely sneakable if you know where you are going… There are many class II rapids between the class IIIs on the" upper New". They are often locally know n as “shoals” and are unnamed. All the way from the Sandstone access (below the Falls), and past the Meadow Creek Access (downstream of I64) you can paddle all the way to Glade Creek without encountering any class III rapdis, I’m not sure of the distance on that, but it would make a long day at low water levels… Still I agree with others who have posted that even class II rapids are not necessarily “beginner” friendly. In general in Wv the New is a wide river, holds water well during the drier summer months (a large reason why it attracts boaters) and can be subject to high flows Self rescue can be difficult during these times- as the current can be deceptively fast and running through the trees on the side of the river… A basic knowledge of river levels, river classification, self rescue, are necessary to successfully navigate even the easier stretches.

A video is worth a thousand words. There are good reasons why people are concerned with your wanting to attempt to paddle here without training and experience in whitewater. Here are some clips of kayaking on sections of the New. Note that these folks in the first two clips (on the WV sections) are all in well-equipped whitewater boats and are wearing helmets for a reason. The third video is on the NC section which is probably why JackL is recommending that for you. Notice that even that one has some pushy rapids. The folks in that one are using light touring kayaks but without sprayskirts. Higher water levels will make even this section more dangerous.

You really should educate yourself about river classifications for flatwater and whitewater so you are able to understand the difficulty in any river or stream before you attempt it. Also learn how to check the USGS gauges so that you know what the water level is any day you go out and also what levels are safe in any river. Never enter any unfamiliar river or stream without checking on the location of dams and rapids. We lost two young women here in southwest PA a year ago when they launched their kayaks on the Ohio River and ignored signs for a dam downstream. They washed over the dam and both died.

liked the first video, o’ at fayette station, perhaps the easiest level,lots of nice lines and moves by the green kayak- boof at upper railroad, far right at scrabble like a rat, caught a piece of the ledge hole in lower keeny

2nd video shared not so much, go pro tilted down, I know that run so I knew the rapids
My video is a bit slow (too many kayakers doing the same rapid) but does a better job of giving you an idea of what the glade to gvs (grandview sandbar) rapids actually look like, some of these folks are just on there 2nd or 3rd ww kayaking trip and did quite well

I liked the production of the 3rd video, did a nice job of telling their story through clips, hard to tell if they put their pfds on for the rapids or not, I guess I’ll never get why people just don’t wear it whenever they are on the water.

TD, your crew is using ww boats and helmets. OP is intending to paddle with a bargy 10’ x 32" sit on top rec boat designed for flatwater fishing.

see plenty of rec boats, fishing sots on that stretch, a lot of them are retired new and gauley river guides, taken my mr adventurer canoe on that stretch a few times but like I said, it’s possible but don’t recommend it for a beginner without some rudimentary instruction. The Glade to Sandbar stretch is the section we take the National Youth Science Campers kayaking on each year, many of those kids have no on water experience prior to that trip but we take a lot of precautions, ww boats, practice wet exits, raft support, and we strive for a one to one match between science campers and wvwa members. We have also canceled the trip when we have had high water.

I’ve offered to hook the op up with the necessary tools so they could have a successful trip in the New River WV environment… I’m not lookin’ for money or any kind of compensation. I’m just a nice guy (who is also an aca instructor, and the lead for the wvwa’s beginner ww clinic). I got a buddy who I taught to kayak ( he bought a cheap rec boat at Dicks) and after a couple of evening sessions he successfully (didn’t swim but had to empty his boat a couple of times) boated the Glade to GVS section at low flow. His end goal is fishing.

I get the ops want to do this on their own. Just some gaps they need to fill in before they can do this safely. on the New in WV. I don’t doubt there are better places somewhere else if they aren’t looking to improve their paddling. My answer is the same as it was in my initial post, . " A basic knowledge of river levels, river classification, self rescue, are necessary to successfully navigate even the easier stretches." It ain’t so much about the boat, as it is the paddler, certainly though some boats are more beginner friendly. Ace ww was still running ducks yesterday from McCreery despite the higher water.

Incidently, the new remains high and murky. Paddled yesterday from McCreery to Stonecliff, the guided fisherman were using crank baits, some were having a slow day, One raft had only caught 26 smallmouths. Silos and slide rapids had 3 and 4 foot waves in spots., no place for a beginner without some instruction for sure. You can always pay to go with one of the professional fishing outfits, Bobby Bowers or Robert Seay will take good care of you, If you do that of course you got to" pay to play".No skill required, just a credit card. or

Gotta go pack for the beginner clinic now, headed to the greenbrfer, another of my previous suggestions for the op. I get what they want to do. Fishing sots are a huge deal here in wv (we refer to them as floating barges), The OP can go somewhere else, or can get some help, to acquire skills necessary to do a section river or they can stick to the pools between the rapids., It’s all good until you get smacked in the face by a four foot wave. i think even the commercial fishing trips probably made the customers put on pfds through silos yesterday. Pretty good reactionaries coming off the right bank, Personally, I skirted around them, .Sometimes the best move is to go someplace else…