The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Gauley River

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The Gauley River near Lockwood, WV

The Gauley River rises in the western part of Pocahontas County, flowing in a southwesterly direction across Webster and Nicholas counties to its junction with the New River in Fayette County at Gauley Bridge, WV, where begins the Kanawha River. Its basin is almost entirely forested. Its lower course descends through the Gauley River National Recreation Area, a world-class destination for whitewater rafting expeditions. The upper river and the tributary Cherry, Williams, and Cranberry Rivers are popular fly-fishing streams.

Gauley River

The Gauley River descends swiftly from to the southwest from Gauley Mountain, in the Allegheny Mountains, at at elevation of more than 4,000 feet above sea level, to its junction with the the New River at the Kanawha River at nearly 800 feet above sea level. Its basin is bounded on the east by that of the Greenbrier River and on the north and west by that of the Elk River. Its drainage is of about 1,430 square miles; seams of Kanawha, New River, and Pocahontas coals occur across the drainage, and many mining communities were once located throughout the basin. Many hunting and fishing camps are now located along its banks.


Mouth: Topo Map :: Source: Topo Map


The river's principal tributaries include the Meadow, Williams, Cranberry, and Cherry rivers, and Hominy, Muddlety and and Twenty-mile creeks.

Whitewater Rafting

The Gauley River is a popular tourist attraction, hosting tens of thousands of whitewater rafting enthusiasts each year. The most popular Gauley River rafting trips are those taken during "Gauley Season," when the river's whitewater is supercharged by the winter-season drawdown of Summersville Lake, just upstream, during the months of September and October.

For more information about whitewater rafting on the Gauley River and commerical rafting trips, see: Gauley River whitewater rafting and whitewater rafting outfitters.

Whitewater Rapids

Whitewater rapids on the lower Gauley are categorized from Class I to VI by the [International Scale of River Difficulty], a global reference for  : Class I is considered easy; Class II is novice; Class III is intermediate; Class IV is advanced; Class V is expert; and Class VI is considered almost impossible.

Upper Gauley River

Insignificant Rapids (also called Wood's Ferry Rapid) - Class IV+
Heaven Help You Rapids - Class V+
Iron Ring Rapids - Class IV+
Lost Paddle Rapids - Class IV+
Pillow Rock Rapids - Class IV+
Sweet Falls Rapids - Class IV+

Lower Gauley River

Koontz Flume Rapids - Class V
Lower Mash Rapids - Class V
Upper Mash Rapids - Class V
Pure Screaming Hell Rapids - Class V

Name Origin

The name Gauley, is of said to be of French origin, being a modification of the old French word, Gaud.

Variant Names

Chin-que-ta-na, Chinquetanacepewe, Falling Creek, Gaul River, Gawly River, Gualey River, River of Gauls, The Falling Creek, The Falls Creek, To-ke-be-lo-ke, To-ke-bel-le-ke, To-ke-bel-lo-ke, Tokobelloke

"To-ke-bel-lo-ke" is said to be a Native American phrase, from the Delaware tribe, meaning "falling creek."