Greenbrier River - Whitewater

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Summary

At 162 miles long, the Greenbrier River in West Virginia is one of the longest rivers in the state.

Written by

Ashley Halligan

Distance

5.0 miles

Paddling distance varies at your leisure.

Destination Distance From Downtown

81.1 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

In the spring and early summer, the Greenbrier River is a Class I-II river, with an occasional Class III rapid. River conditions get more technical as spring picks up, so paddlers of different skill levels can have some fun on the river.

Time To Complete

2 hours

There are shorter and longer sections on the Greenbrier, which will take anywhere from about 2 hours to multiple days. Most people spend about a half day out on the river.

Seasonality

Spring and Summer

For calmer conditions, go in summer, when the water is ideal for serene canoeing and tubing trips. While river conditions are mostly calm, there is an occasional Class I-III rapid to keep things interesting. For those with more technical skills, the river picks up significantly in spring , with class levels rising. Typically, guided tours and companies that provide shuttle service and rent equipment cease in early summer, leaving the river open to non-commercial paddling.

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

At 162 miles long, the Greenbrier River in West Virginia is one of the longest free-flowing and undammed rivers in the United States, supplying the New River with 30% of its water volume (though the Greenbrier is much gentler than the roaring New River). With sections that average between Class I-III, it’s a great destination for the young, old, beginner and skilled paddlers alike.

What Makes It Great

The Greenbrier is incredibly scenic, with short and long floating trips. It is also seasonally predictable with a few Class I-IIIs along different routes. There are several different run lengths, from just a couple of miles that can you can do in a couple of hours to many miles that will keep you out there overnight on multi-day trips. You can also get to several hiking trails and state parks from the Greenbrier River.

One popular route is from Fort Spring to Greenbrier River Campground. It’s a Class I-II run that will give you a taste of some of the better rapids along the Greenbrier. At just 2.5 miles long, you can easily finish it in less than 2 hours.

If you prefer a longer route and enjoy spending several hours on the river, the 13-mile section from Anthony to Caldwell is wider and has a handful of haystacks to paddle through. This section of the river tends to be broader and deeper than other sections.

Who is Going to Love It

Families love the Greenbrier because of its predictable, low class levels, which are primarily Class I-II, although a few stretches have an occasional Class III rapid to navigate. It keeps things fun, but for the most part you won’t need any technical skills. It’s an ideal river to spend a spring or early summer day canoeing, kayaking or floating (if you just want a leisurely trip.) If you’re looking for a more exciting run, the best time to go is spring when the water level rises.

Nature lovers, birdwatchers and wildlife photographers also love spending days on the Greenbrier, particularly the upper sections that have calmer water.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There are several access points and routes along the Greenbrier’s 162 miles. For a comprehensive list of some of the most popular routes, along with directions to the put-ins and take-outs, go to the American Whitewater website and search for Greenbrier River sections.

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Location

Greenbrier State Forest

37.739444, -80.333333

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