The boulder-strewn canyon of the lower Cheat River contains one of the most exciting whitewater runs in the eastern U.S. In spring, when the Cheat nears flood stage, thousands of paddlers descend on this quiet corner of north-eastern West Virginia, otherwise known for its buckwheat farms. Thirty rapids on the lower Cheat provide plenty of thrills and spills through a 13-mile section on the lower course of the river. Along the way, rafters are treated to the spectacle of cliffs and waterfalls that descend the canyon walls.
The Cheat is traditionally run from early March until early June after snowmelt and spring rains have strengthened its flow. The river is sometimes also run after heavy summer storms and autumn hurricanes, though it is otherwise too shallow to be run effectively outside the spring rainy season. Its whitewater sequence is considered highly technical, and its rapids approach Class V ratings, so rafters younger than 14 years old are not generally accommodated by commercial outfitters. Rafters should be prepared to don wetsuits as rafting on the Cheat in spring can be chilling.
Lodging near Cheat River rafting
Rafting Area Location
The Cheat River whitewater rafting area is located in the Monongahela Valley Region in northern West Virginia downstream of the Allegheny Highlands Region. Further information on lodging, dining, and travel in the area can be found by exploring these regions.
Map of Cheat River Rafting Area
Expeditions through the Cheat canyon most often launch at the community of Albright and end at the Jenkinsburg Bridge above the mouth of Big Sandy Creek. Outfitters then transport rafters back to the launch areas near Albright. Based on water level and the rate of flow, rafting excursions on the Cheat generally last from three to six hours.
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