The Coal River Water Trail includes three rivers. The Big Coal River, the Little Coal River and the Coal River. Each river is unique and different but all the rivers connect and flow “unusually” North to the Great Kanawha River at St. Albans WV.
A visit to the region for the first time will open up a wonderful opportunity to experience the uniquely different cultures found in the Appalachian area. Southern WV provides visitors with a living history lesson on Coal mines and Coal Communities. The road system through the region is in good shape but be careful because our geography rules how the roads need to curve and meander around mountains through passes and over hundreds of bridges.
The rivers provide a way to connect comfortably with the small communities along the way via kayaks on water with no hills to climb and no bridges to cross. The ever present signs of Coal Mining can be found throughout the trail. Large Coal Tipples will amaze you with their size and complexity and the rail road follows the rivers everywhere. In fact if you get lost you can walk out of the wilderness by following the rail lines.
The Coal River Group of volunteers has studied the rivers for over 12 years. Due to the 100 years of mining and timbering in the rugged mountains of Boone, Lincoln and Kanawha County the rivers have been continuously studied to determine damage from industrial usage, accidents and spills. The studies have been collected by the CRG and as the rivers have been restored the historic studies provide an excellent gage to determine positive changes brought about by the enormous efforts by regulators and private citizens to restore all three rivers. One river alone the Little Coal River has had over $9 million spent on a project which has totally restructured the flows, removed silt and restored fish habitat. The amazing success can be seen by floating any of the Little Coal River Trails. The problem will be that you will only see the beauty, fast flows and abundant fish populations that have resulted from the hard work of the WVDEP and citizens.
The Coal Rivers offer visitors an opportunity to experience a unique culture based on mining and timbering while safely touring the beautiful and wild mountains of the Appalachian range. White beaches abound as do fish. Bring your rod and reel because fishing is great!