If you’re looking for secluded streams or rivers surrounded by lush forests, head to West Virginia. Whether you prefer to canoe alone or with your family and friends, there’s so much waiting to be explored in these waters.

Have you ever had one of those days spent on the water when everything just seems perfect? Sun-kissed skin. The sounds of birds chirping. Mountain views across the skyline. This is what canoeing in West Virginia is all about. Peace, serenity and nature – all wrapped into one heavenly package.

Discover a few of our favorite places to paddle about and explore.

Summersville Lake

Nicknamed the “Little Bahamas of the East,” Summersville Lake is West Virginia’s largest lake with more than 28,000 acres of water and 60 miles of shoreline for you to explore. Head to Sarge’s Dive Shop for all your water adventure needs. They offer rentals and evening cruises with a catered dinner. Visit the Summersville Lake Retreat and Lighthouse for a little exploration. Here, you can rent vacation cabins, camp, rent boats and take a tour of the Summersville Lake Lighthouse–the only lighthouse in West Virginia! If you’re in need of a break from the water, then stop by the beautiful Kirkwood Winery and Isaiah Morgan Distillery nearby for tours and tastings of from the winery and distillery.

Upper Cheat River Water Trail

The Upper Cheat River Water Trail (UCRWT) has 9 river access points, with nearly 40 miles of pristine paddling through calm, deep pools and wide, shallow riffles. This section, starting in Hendricks and ending at the quaint river town of Rowlesburg, has only a few class I and II rapids to navigate, so the UCRWT is perfect for novice paddlers, family trips and overnighters with a canoe full of camping gear and fishing poles.

Home to both native and stocked trout, the Cheat is also well-known for its fly fishing. The UCRWT is free, and you don’t need any permits for overnight trips, although you do need a valid West Virginia fishing license if you want to cast your line.

You can run the UCRWT at most levels, but it’s ideal at 500-8,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), and the levels start to drop as summer goes on. Always check the water level before you head out.

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