Our rivers are important pathways that connect our past to our future. Float with us as we pay homage to some of our majestic waterways and the towns that embrace them.
The Cheat River rises in five forks in the Monongahela National Forest—the Blackwater River and Dry, Glady, Laurel, and Shavers forks—that are all cold-water fishing destinations. Devoted work by locals and paddlers has overcome severe effects from past logging and mining; today, from just above Parsons downriver to Rowlesburg is the 40-mile Cheat River Water Trail, some of the most scenic waters in the state.
Planted where the Black and Shavers forks join to form the main stem of the Cheat, the former rail town of Parsons is the seat of Tucker County and a perfect hub for fishing, flatwater, and whitewater fun. If you take your own boat, you’ll find three convenient Cheat River Water Trail access points right in Parsons. Or check with outfitter Blackwater Outdoor Adventures, just downriver in St. George, for guided class II to class III whitewater excursions in the Cheat Narrows as well as tubing, canoeing, and kayaking float trips and stand-up paddleboard rentals. There are lots of near-river cabin and campground accommodations in the area, too.
Downriver from Parsons, Rowlesburg, in Preston County, is a rail town, too. It took its name from James Rowles, a mid-1800s chief engineer of the B&O Railroad. The area’s dramatic topography was a challenge—the nearby Tray Run and Amblersburg railroad viaducts over deep ravines were feats of engineering. Rowlesburg enjoys its spot at the center of a wide, slow-moving 180-degree bend in the Cheat, and the town hosts a River City Festival every Memorial Day weekend. Rowlesburg Park is the end point of the Cheat River Water Trail and a pleasant place to take out at the end of a float. River House Lodge in town offers float trips.