The 81-mile Cacapon River begins in Wardensville and snakes its way northeast, with the water cutting a zig-zag pattern in the land before emptying into the Potomac River in Great Cacapon. The 30.9-mile Lost River forms the Cacapon's headwaters, then disappears underground near Wardensville, and reemerges as the Cacapon River. 65 miles of the river make up The Cacapon River Water Trail, which is a great place for all levels of paddlers to get out and enjoy time on the water.
What Makes It Great
West Virginia's Cacapon River is serene, peaceful, and surrounded by beautiful scenery. While it's true that the Cacapon has some fast-moving rapids that can be challenging (and not advised for less-experienced and/or ill-prepared paddlers), a lot of the river is smooth and flat. The gradient downriver is slight, and many of its segments are like the lazy river ride at water parks—slow and relaxing.
The Cacapon River Water Trail has some nice swimming spots, along with fun paddling options. The opening 15 miles of the trail are mostly flatwater, but the next 11.5 miles have a few segments that require whitewater skills. The final 38 miles, though, are the most relaxing and serene. The one speed bump is a dam about 4 miles from the Potomac. Stay to the left when you get here.
During your paddle down the river, take the time to look for wildlife like wild turkeys, beaver, and deer. The waters are also full of bass, so if angling is your thing, stash your fishing gear in your canoe. Because this is such a mellow river to run, wildlife watching and catching some fish just add to the fun.
Who is Going to Love It
Paddlers of all abilities can enjoy the Cacapon River. Experienced paddlers will love the fast-moving rapids, while folks who simply want to float down the river and enjoy the scenery can also put their canoes in these waters.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The Cacapon River is 81 miles long, and there are several places to enter and exit the water. Your best bet is to visit the Friends of the Cacapon River website to see where to go. There's information there about the Cacapon River Water Trail, too.