Communities along the Guyandotte River in south-western West Virginia are celebrating the restoration of the scenic waterway July 14 with an inaugural kayak and canoe float and regatta at five locations along its valley.
More than 300 kayakers are expected to join in the festivities at Mullens, Gilbert, Branchland, Barboursville, and at Dabney, near Logan, according to Christie Bailey, director of the National Coal Heritage Authority, which provided administrative and financial support for the event.
Bailey said there's good reason to celebrate the river's restoration and its increasing popularity as a recreational stream, supported with great success by the Guyandotte Water Trail Alliance.
"The Guyandotte is attracting a lot of attention, and communities up and down the river are seeing a good deal more recreation in recent years," Bailey said.
Following the river from its sources near Mullens to its mouth near Huntington, the 160 mile Guyandotte Water Trail includes more than 24 river access points.
Long the central corridor for one of the state's most populated coal-mining regions, the river was also once among its most polluted waterways, but its water quality has since been restored and is attracting boaters as well as campers and anglers.
River-access and registration locations and community sponsors for the event are as follows:
- Mullens, Wyoming County, sponsored by the Rural Appalachian Improvement League. The put-in is at the Mullens Opportunity Center
- Gilbert, Mingo County, sponsored by the Town of Gilbert and the Gilbert Convention & Visitor Bureau. The put-in is at the Ned’s Branch Bridge.
- Dabney, Logan County, sponsored by the Logan Lions Club. The put-in is at the Three-Mile Curve river-access.
- Branchland, Lincoln County, sponsored by the Branchland Park Steering Committee. The put-in is at Branchland Park.
- Barboursville, Cabell County, sponsored by the Village of Barboursville. The put-in is at Barboursville Park.
Registration at all five launch locations begins at 8 a.m., and kayakers and canoers may launch at 10 a.m.
Each float will last approximately two hours, and some communities will provide activities in addition to the river float, Bailey said.
Rain or high-water dates for the event are July 21 and July 28.
Participants will be required to register and sign a liability waiver at each launch location and must wear a Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device, of which a limited number of may be available for loan at each site.
The recommended age for participation is eight years old and above
There is no fee to join, though participants are encouraged to submit a registration form and liability waiver by July 11 to ensure that an event t-shirt is their size will be available for them.
Those registering after July 11 or on-site will be provided with t-shirts as available. All participants will also receive a safety whistle, which all kayakers are required to have on-board as part of state safety regulations.
Registration forms and other information are available here.
This event is being held to encourage the use of the Guyandotte River for recreation and promote the Guyandotte Water Trail, a designated recreational trail for anglers and operators of non-motorized boats.
For more information, please visit its website.