The Bluestone River runs through some of the most beautiful and inaccessible country in West Virginia. It begins as a meandering mountain stream in the Virginia highlands then carves a deep gorge through Southern West Virginia, passing under the West Virginia Turnpike. It ends in what might be the most beautiful manmade lake in the country: Bluestone Lake above Hinton. Shallow, clear, and flanked by steep cliffs, the Bluestone feels more like a western trout stream than an Appalachian river. The Bluestone is protected as a National Scenic River for its final 10.5 miles. Two West Virginia State Parks, Pipestem and Bluestone, provide anglers with unique fishing opportunities along the river's shores.
What Makes It Great
The Bluestone holds warmwater fish like smallmouth bass, rock bass, and bluegill, as well as stocked trout. Pipestem Resort State Park’s “Trout Wrangler” program offers one of the most unique fishing opportunities in the state. Held in the spring and fall of each year, you are transported from the canyon rim to the river on horseback to spend 2 days with a guide, fly fishing for stocked rainbow trout. You get to spend the night on the river in high comfort: Pipestem's Mountain Creek Lodge. Meals and equipment are provided. Please visit Pipestem Resort for more information.
Besides the “Trout Wrangler” program, there are a few self-guided fishing opportunities on the Bluestone. Unless you have a craft capable of negotiating swift, potentially hazardous Class III rapids, your best bet is to hike or ride Pipestem’s tram (Call ahead to see if it’s running. Pets aren’t allowed on the tram.) from the canyon rim to the river.
In the winter, you’ll find stocked rainbow trout. In the warmer months, you’ll find good smallmouth fishing. The riverside Mountain Creek Lodge in Pipestem Resort State Park offers lodging and a restaurant on the otherwise remote and undeveloped river. A trail runs from Pipestem to Bluestone State Park, where Bluestone Lake begins. These deeper waters hold catfish, carp, all sorts of bass and panfish, and musky.
Who is Going to Love It
However you like to fish, the Bluestone River has something for you. If you like to fly fish for trout and smallmouth, wading in the fast, clear waters near Pipestem is great fun. Good canoe and kayak fishing lies in the peaceful flatwater upstream of Bluestone State Park, and several state-record holding fish have been caught on the stunning Bluestone Lake. The tram and riverside lodge at Pipestem are a unique mixture of modern convenience and a backcountry setting.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The Bluestone is most easily accessed from either Bluestone or Pipestem Resort state parks. Both of these parks are located along WV Route 20 between Athens and Hinton. To reach these parks from I-64, take Exit 139, then go south on Route 20. Bluestone State Park is 15 miles and Pipestem is 22 miles. From I-77 take Exit 14 to Route 20 north. Pipestem is 14 miles and Bluestone is 22 miles.
Several boat ramps offer river access in Bluestone State Park. There are also a few campsites along the river where you can fish. To reach the river in Pipestem Resort State Park, follow signs to the Canyon Rim Center, then take the tram down to the Mountain Creek Lodge or follow the River Trail. The tram isn’t always running, so call ahead. If you’re planning on eating or staying at the Mountain Creek Lodge, be sure to make reservations in advance as the Lodge is open seasonally and gets booked up.