Blackwater River Canaan Valley, Upper, and Lower Sections

Hendricks, West Virginia

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The Blackwater River has its headwaters in a vast upland swamp in Canaan Valley. Multiple branches funnel the 150-square-mile drainage basin into 2 main forks, which pass through the nineteenth-century logging capitals of Davis and Thomas. Here they leap off the mountain as falls, each 50 feet high. This is the beginning of a relentless rush through a steep canyon to the Dry Fork, 8 miles and 1,000 feet below. Both falls, the one preserved by a state park and the other on the North Fork, are worth seeing. The waters of the Blackwater are non-silted, brown, and covered with suds, a form of natural pollution noted since the days of Thomas Lewis. This 1746 explorer appropriately called this stream the “River Styx.” The dark color is attributed to organic acids from the upland swamps leaching iron oxides from the red shale that lines the riverbed. There have been extensive efforts on the North Fork of the Blackwater to reclaim areas damaged by mining.
A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to West Virginia

DESCRIPTION FROM:

A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to West Virginia

by Charlie Walbridge et al (Menasha Ridge Press)

The Blackwater River has its headwaters in a vast upland swamp in Canaan Valley. Multiple branches funnel the 150-square-mile drainage basin into 2 main forks, which pass through the nineteenth-century logging capitals of Davis and Thomas. Here they leap off the mountain as falls, each 50 feet high. This is the beginning of a relentless rush through a steep canyon to the Dry Fork, 8 miles and 1,000 feet below. Both falls, the one preserved by a state park and the other on the North Fork, are worth seeing.

The waters of the Blackwater are non-silted, brown, and covered with suds, a form of natural pollution noted since the days of Thomas Lewis. This 1746 explorer appropriately called this stream the “River Styx.” The dark color is attributed to organic acids from the upland swamps leaching iron oxides from the red shale that lines the riverbed. There have been extensive efforts on the North Fork of the Blackwater to reclaim areas damaged by mining.

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

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Hendricks
Distance: 20.5
Duration: 3 sections of 4 hours each
Class: Class II-VI
Local Maps: USGS Blackwater Falls, Davis, Mozark Mountain
Driving Directions: Directions to Blackwater River: Canaan Valley, Upper, and Lower Sections

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Apr 2018