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coal-river-trail-another-happy-kayakerAbout the Coal River (Walhonde)* Water Trail


West Virginia’s first and most exciting Kayak water trail is getting better!

Come visit Southern West Virginia’s flatwater Kayak adventure center!

A Water Trail is defined as, “a stretch of water along a river or shoreline that has been mapped out with the intent of creating an educational, scenic, and enjoyable experience for recreational canoers and kayakers.” An official trail usually consists of a network of marked access points, resting areas, and points of interest for users of human-powered watercraft on lakes and rivers.

The Coal River Walhonde Water Trail is bound to be an adventure regardless of what section you choose to float. There are over 88 miles of river to explore and approximately 17 locations where the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has constructed small boat launches. The Water Trail is designed to provide public access to the Big, Little and Coal Rivers. The trail has been designed and is maintained by the Coal River Group, a non-profit Watershed Improvement Group.



The Water Trail has brought new recreation-based economic growth to coal mining communities! 


The volunteers who worked so hard back in 2007 to create the trail are constantly upgrading the signage, Trail guides, boat launches and regularly conduct tire removal and trash cleanups. The Coal Communities along the trail have embraced the new Kayak visitors and conduct many river Kayak events. The Water Trail is fast becoming a major economic engine for the local economies. New local Kayak Rental and related river recreation support businesses are creating new jobs for these former Coal Based communities.


Kayak Water Trails for fun and fishing!The Water Trail begins at Whitesville, WV and extends for approximately 30 miles to the junction of the Big and Little Coal Rivers at Alum Creek. The Little Coal River Trail segment begins at Madison, WV and extends along that river watershed to the junction of the Big Coal River at Alum Creek, WV. The Water Trail continues from the junction of the two upper rivers at Alum Creek down the Coal River to Kanawha River at St. Albans, WV.


The Water Trail is designed to provide trips for users of approximately 8 miles in length. (A trip of this length is normally the maximum that an average boater can paddle in a 6-hour day trip.) The Trail traverses areas that are extremely remote and in some cases the route will provide little or no access to public roads or easily accessed contacts with emergency phones or residents. Thus the typical trip segment must be planned carefully by the traveler to ensure safety.

Communities that the trail passes include: Whitesville, Sylvester, Racine, Peytona, Ashford, Emmons, and Alum Creek on the Big Coal River and on the Little Coal River the communities include: Madison, Danville, Julian and MacCorkle. The lower Coal River area includes the towns of Upper Falls and St. Albans.


The Coal River Water Trail has become a major destination for the new breed of Kayak Anglers. The Clean water coupled with major manmade improvements to the rivers has greatly enhanced fish habitat and macroinvertebrate populations. Fishermen have found that the long time productive fishery is producing more and more citation size Walleye, Muskie, Small Mouth Bass and on and on. Fishing on the Coal is one of the best kept secrets in the state.


Experience Wild Wonderful West Virginia’s beautiful, clean Coal Rivers!


The Coal River Group (CRG) is a non-profit watershed organization dedicated to bringing life back to the Coal Rivers. Located in West Virginia’s Southern Coalfields region, the Coal River Group was formed in 2004 by local paddlers and fishermen to protect the rivers ecologically, promote recreational opportunities on the rivers, and preserve the area’s unique history. For the last twelve years, the volunteer-run organization has tended the 100 miles of the Big, Little, and main stem Coal Rivers.

The Coal River Group plays an important role in southern West Virginia, where the mining industry has historically held sway. While dedicated first and foremost to restoring the environmental quality of the watershed, the CRG serves the Southern Coalfields by educating the community on the watershed and its history, and by providing recreational opportunities to raise awareness, appreciation, and enjoymCRG-River Centerent of the rivers.

As a non-profit organization the Coal River Group relies heavily on its volunteers to help maintain the Coal River Water Trail. We thank all that have participated in the various events and tasks to make this Water Trail possible. To keep the Coal River Water Trail the best in the State, we ask all current volunteers and future volunteers to keep up the good work, this would not be possible without you.