Ditching D.C. for river R&R

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
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Ditching D.C. for river R&R
Question: I'm looking for a nice place for a weekend getaway, about three hours from here. Similar to your advice on New Hampshire's Saco River for New Yorkers....I have a whitewater kayak and would love to get out of the DC-Beltway rat race for a weekend of outdoor relaxation. Thanks!

Matt Elliott
Herndon, VA
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: I'd recommend ditching D.C. for the upper sections of West Virginia's New River, about three hours west of the capital on the far side of the Shenandoahs.

While WV's infamous for its hairy whitewater--like the roiling rapids on the Cheat and the Gauley rivers-the Upper New is home to more mellow, Class I-II waters and is ideal for a weekend of on-river relaxation. Put-in is in Hinton, in southwestern WV's Fayette County, and you can choose between an eight- or 16-mile section, both of which have a laid-back mix of easy rapids and slowly moving flatwater. Bring your tent and sleeping bag, and overnight on the longer section along the river.

Below Thurmond, the recommended take-out, the river becomes a churning, Class III-V+ as it flows through New River Gorge to a 250-foot drop over ledges and boulders. Both the Upper and Lower New are runnable from early spring through late fall, and there are practically a gazillion outfitters who run raft trips there--Appalachian Wildwaters (800-624-8060) and New and Gauley River Adventures (800-759-7238), to name a couple--and are good sources for additional information.

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