Wet and Wild Appalachia

Fayetteville, West Virginia

Jan 4, 2006
Outside Magazine
West Virginia

Wild West: Slicing through the WV forest    Photo: courtesy, West Virginia Tourism

The Inside 5

Two-time world-champion aerial freestyle kayaker Tanya Shuman has lived in Fayetteville for four years, but her love affair with the whitewater hub started back in 1997, when she came for Gauley Fest, a yearly paddlers' bash. Here's what she does in her free time: 1. Organizes and competes in Gauley Fest, held each September. 2. Boats the New River Dries, one of the biggest play waves in the world. 3. Stocks up on climbing gear at Water Stone Outdoors. 4. Spin-casts for rainbow trout at the put-in near the dam on the Upper Gauley. 5. Paddles to the cliffs on Summersville Lake in a sit-on-top kayak.

High Water: With two of the East's biggest rivers plowing by right outside of town, Fayetteville is a washing machine of whitewater. The New River is a classic standby, offering Class III–V rapids all spring and summer, but Gauley River season—weekends in September and October, when the Summersville Dam releases its gates to create churning Class V+ rapids—is truly something to write home about. ACE Adventure Resort, 800-787-3982
Roll On: North American River Runners offers two-day kayaking classes on tamer sections of the New. Beginners and intermediates practice stroke technique and learn to roll, ferry across currents, and nail tricks in Class I–III rapids. 800-950-2585
Will Ride For Views: From the town park, mountain-bike the gentle, wooded 2.8-mile Fayetteville Trail to the head of the seven-mile Cunard-Kaymoor Trail, a semi-technical spin 500 feet up along the edge of the New River Gorge. Or, for more secluded singletrack, explore the developing network of rolling, forested paths surrounding Summersville Lake. Ridge Rider Mountain Bikes, 800-890-2453
Do the New: From one of four free National Park Service campsites set amid maples, poplars, and oaks at the bottom of the Gorge, you'll be a short drive from more than 1,400 diverse sandstone sport and traditional climbs, known simply as "the New." Take a stab at Discombobulated, a classic, exposed 5.11 with huge views. New River Mountain Guides, 800-732-5462

Need a caffeine wake-up call? Head to Cathedral Café, the local river runners' rendezvous. 304-574-0202
Smokey's on the Gorge, overlooking the river, cooks up a gourmet buffet with barbecued wild boar ribs and grilled quail. 800-252-7784