North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River Cherry Grove to Petersburg

Circleville, West Virginia

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This is the most famous whitewater in the Eastern panhandle, providing miles of bouncy Class 2–3 whitewater in one of the state’s most beautiful mountain valleys. Discovered by canoeists from Washington, DC during the 1950s, it later became the site of the famous Petersburg Whitewater Weekend. For decades this hugely popular event brought hundreds of paddlers together from all over the Eastern US and introduced many of us to the sport of wildwater racing. But eventually it got too big for its own good. Rowdy crowds of spectators overwhelmed the resources of the area, the race was phased out, and only memories remain. But the wonderful river that drew everyone to the area is still a fabulous intermediate run. This run is straightforward, but picks up speed at the end. It’s a small stream, so watch out for downed trees and other flood debris. About 1 mile above the take-out, you’ll begin to find things picking up to Class 3. This is due to a series of small ledges that cut across the river at 30- to 40-degree angles. Watch for a low-water bridge near Riverton.
A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to West Virginia

DESCRIPTION FROM:

A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to West Virginia

by Charlie Walbridge et al (Menasha Ridge Press)

This is the most famous whitewater in the Eastern panhandle, providing miles of bouncy Class 2–3 whitewater in one of the state’s most beautiful mountain valleys. Discovered by canoeists from Washington, DC during the 1950s, it later became the site of the famous Petersburg Whitewater Weekend. For decades this hugely popular event brought hundreds of paddlers together from all over the Eastern US and introduced many of us to the sport of wildwater racing. But eventually it got too big for its own good. Rowdy crowds of spectators overwhelmed the resources of the area, the race was phased out, and only memories remain. But the wonderful river that drew everyone to the area is still a fabulous intermediate run.

This run is straightforward, but picks up speed at the end. It’s a small stream, so watch out for downed trees and other flood debris. About 1 mile above the take-out, you’ll begin to find things picking up to Class 3. This is due to a series of small ledges that cut across the river at 30- to 40-degree angles. Watch for a low-water bridge near Riverton.

©  Charlie Walbridge et al/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Circleville
Distance: 43
Duration: 4 sections range from 2 to 4 hours
Class: Class I-III
Local Maps: USGS Spruce Knob, Circleville, Onego, Upper Tract, Hopeville, Petersburg West
Driving Directions: Directions to North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River: Cherry Grove to Petersburg

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Apr 2018