Quick help needed - Summer Gauley trip?

PNet to the rescue!

My wife and I sort of belatedly realized we have the weekend off together and now were scrambling to figure out something to do. I was wondering if anyone knows if it would be worthwhile to take a summer Gauley rafting trip over 2 days? According to the ACE Adventure Resort:

“But the Gauley River Season is more than six weekends in the fall. ACE’s Summer Gauley Rafting Trips run the Upper and Lower Gauley River from spring through summer and fall. You’ve got the river all to yourself, the rapids are tight and technical, and we run smaller, high adventure boats on summer flows. No matter what time of year, the Gauley River is in a league of its own: challenging rapids, high adrenaline, and an unmatched wilderness experience in Southern West Virginia. Check it out!”

We were thinking it might be fun in those little inflatable kayaks or something. Just wondering if anyone has done it…or has any idea of what the river levels are like up there now? I just don’t want to sign on to something boring. Our alternative is to hop on a plane and go to Arizona to go hiking (we travel free on the airlines)…so we are weighing our options…

If you have any info…we’d like to hear it!



It’s hard to say without knowing more
The Gauley is going to be low during the Summer.

The reservoir is at full pool level and if there is any more rain they will release what comes in.

Occasionally, without notice, they do release some for power generation, but that is usually a low level release, about 600 cfs.

The New has been running moderately high through June. It will run at some level all Summer and you’d probably end up with at least one day there.

The Gauley at low water, 200 to 600 cfs, is a hoot but it is a really really spooky place that still has some bite to it. I question the wisdom of doing ducky trips in there, but they have been doing that for a few years.

So, it depends on your paddling skills and expectations.

You can always paddle the lake. :slight_smile:

I’ll answer more specific questions if ya got em…

What do you mean?
What makes it a “spooky place” at low water levels? Is it more dangerous?



– Last Updated: Jul-01-09 5:21 PM EST –

Don't swim Lost Paddle, no matter what the water level.

If you do swim; get to the river bank "asap".

Long swim with lots of undercuts & seives.

I wouldn't run it in a ducky if "you" paid for it.


thats what he means by spooky

I’ll add my piece
If you aren’t a solid Class IV paddler there is no way I’d attempt that river, even guided, in a solo inflatable kayak. That is one intense river with really big consequences. Hell dropping Sweets Falls in a 7 person raft is ridiculous enough.

The Upper Summersville Lake is a fantastic paddle along vertical cliffs with water visibility down 20 or 30 feet. If the Greenbrier gets water you’ve go probably 60 miles of fantastic wilderness float, and if you get lucky the Gauley will get a rain event and you can do a raft trip.

Have fun. WV has some awesome paddling.


According to Ace’s website . . .
. . . on Summer Gauley trips, they use anything from smaller rafts down to “funyaks”, which I assume are duckies. They determine what section and which boats to use based on the flow that particular day. Because the flows are so much lower, they also position the guides on the rocks with throw ropes as the paddlers come through the rapids both to tell them what to do/where to go as well as rescue any swimmers quickly.

I’d say they wouldn’t be taking on too much risk with trips like this, so they’re probably not putting people in duckies into rapids with undercuts and sieves, but that’s pure conjecture, of course.

I’d do it. Heck, for a half second, I considered going out to Mike’s Labor Day trip to the New a day early and do the Ace trip. That is, until I saw the $145 weekend /$120 weekday price per person . . . .



know what you’re doing
a group of us did the lower new and upper gauley 2 weeks ago. most of us have done the new before and some of us have done the lower gauley. both are wonderful trips, if you have the proper skills. on our upper gauley trip we had 4 rafts with 4 paddlers and 1 guide in each. 15 of the 20 went swimming, some twice or more, all in class 5 rapids (pillow rock, iron ring, and sweet’s falls). this was my 8th rafting trip and to be honest, it scared the bejeesus out of me. if you don’t have strong paddling skills, stick with the new. you can go on you-tube and watch some pretty amazing gauley videos and then make the decision whether you’re ready for that or not. that being said, i’m already making plans to do it again.

Your conjecture is wrong. :slight_smile:
At low levels the hazards are reduced, but they are still there.

It’s probably a case where ignorance is bliss.

Thanks for the replies. We definitely want to raft up there…but we might wait for the Fall ridiculously exciting time instead. Now we are debating Sedona or San Diego (hiking or surfing?)… Sedona sounds fun because they have another little self-guided trip down the Verde river in funyaks (I’ll have a hard time saying that without making a face…) Anyway…thanks for the tips…the concern…all that. The guides on the ACE web-site look competent…and the paddlers they showed in their video didn’t look very competent…so I’d gather they shepherd people down the river pretty conservatively and safely. Something for a future date though…



What I meant, is that they avoid those
areas. Again, it’s conjecture. I’m sure you’re correct about the hazards, and I wasn’t assuming they go away.

Ace says they adjust their trips & boats used daily based on water flow. Which, I’d assume, means probably that they avoid those sections on days when they’re putting people in duckies. It would be pretty asinine not to, the way it sounds from several of you.