Flatwater Paddling

If you’re looking for secluded streams or rivers surrounded by lush forests, head to West Virginia. Explore West Virginia’s placid flat waters on a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard excursion. Whether you prefer to paddle alone or with your family and friends, there’s so much waiting to be explored in these waters.

Coal River

Paddle down one of the Coal River Water Trail’s three different branches. Have your pick of the Little Coal, Big Coal, or where they join to make the main branch of the Coal River. The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources maintains 17 different launch points along the Water Trail’s network, making planning easy.  You can also join in the summer fun with the Tour de Coal one of the largest boating events in the Metro Valley.

Greenbrier River

Paddle down one of West Virginia’s iconic rivers. The Greenbrier has nearly 150 miles of the water trail, and is one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the Eastern U.S. Enjoy the easy class I fast moving water or test your paddling skills on the few sections of the navigable class II+ novice level rapids. Along the side of the river is the incredibly accessible– multi-use Greenbrier River Trail, allowing for easy put-ins and take-outs

Summersville Lake

The clear and bright blue waters have remarkable visibility and are surrounded by cliffs, a true mountain lake. This massive lake is the largest in West Virginia, and there’s no better way to explore it than by paddling it.  Have the chance to view some wildlife by paddling the north side to Summersville Lake Wildlife Area

Tygart Lake State Park

Located in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains you’ll find Tygart Lake. Explore its 10-mile long, 1750-acre lake, or paddle either Pleasant Creek or Cove Run – great hide-a-way channels that flow into the lake. You can also paddle up Cover Run where the Tygart River meets the lake or test your skills and check out the last rapids of the Tygart River.

Cacapon River

SUP on the New River Gorge River, WV

Are you looking for a secluded float trip downstream? The Cacapon River Water Trail offers 65 miles of Almost Heaven. Explore West Virginia wildlife and breathtaking vistas. From novice paddlers to experienced ones, there is a section of this river for everyone. Although, there is no public camping along the river, there are numerous public and private campgrounds located throughout the area.

The Monongahela River

Affectionately known as “The Mon,” come paddle up on this beautiful north-flowing river. Starting in Fairmont, this rolling path is formed from the West Fork and Tygart Rivers and flows north approximately 130 miles to Pittsburgh. Easy access awaits at Palatine Park and many points along the way through the heart of Mountaineer Country.

The West Fork

Come paddle in the heart of north central WV! The West Fork (of the Monongahela River) is 75 miles long, starting in the Lewis County area before joining the Tygart River to become “The Mon.” Expect many fine fishing spots, great bird spotting and ever-increasing access points to enjoy the scenery along the way. Caution and portage are required at the two dams located in Clarksburg and Worthington.

Bloody Mingo Tug Fork River Water Trail

The Bloody Mingo Tug Fork River Water Trail runs the full 60 mile length of Mingo County. The trail starts at Wharncliffe, WV, at the mouth of Ben Creek, and ends at Warfield, KY. The Tug Fork River is in the heart of Hatfield-McCoy country as it was the border between the two families and forms part of the state line between West Virginia and Kentucky. History abounds along the river and in each community along its banks.

Upper Cheat River Water Trail

Starting near Parsons, the Upper Cheat River Water Trail is tucked away in the Allegheny Mountains of northern West Virginia. The water trail features nine access points and roughly 40 miles of flatwater – with plenty of opportunities to stop and fish. The final access point is located in Rowlesburg Park. Let the surrounding rugged topography distance you from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Elk River Water Trail

The 101-mile Elk River Water Trail starts at Sutton Dam in Sutton and runs through many charming towns, including Gassaway, Clay and Clendenin. The water trail ends at the confluence with the Kanawha River in the capital city of Charleston. Enjoy floating in a river that runs through a rugged, rural territory inhabited by abundant wildlife and few people. The river is characterized by large pools of water and shallow shoals inhabited by premier bass and muskie.

Mill Creek Water Trail

Mill Creek Water Trail starts at Cedar Lakes Conference Center, Ripley, and meanders for 22 miles to the Ohio River at Millwood. Leisurely paddle for a relaxing family adventure that goes through the town of Ripley, past Rollins Lake, along the banks of the Jackson County Fairgrounds.

How to Start

Grab a buddy or go to one of the many outfitters in West Virginia. No matter if it is a canoe, kayak, or standup paddleboard, they are all great ways to get on the water. Make sure to plan ahead and go to a beginner-friendly section of water. When in doubt go with someone who knows what they are doing to enjoy the beauties that West Virginia has to offer.

What to Bring

Your gear list is always going to vary on the weather, time of year, and Almost Heaven destination. If you are traveling with friends or a local guide, it is always best to consult them on specific gear needs. However, if you’re just looking for the basics, here’s a helpful list that outlines gear almost every adventurer needs.

  • Swimsuit or clothes that can get wet
  • Sneakers or Sandals with a heel strap
  • Dry change of clothes
  • A water bottle with extra water
  • A rain jacket in case of rainy days
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent


Most people like to get on the water during the heat of the summer. Paddling during the summer can be amazing in West Virginia but don’t count out the fall and the spring. With the changing water levels, paddling the same area during different seasons can be a whole new experience.

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