A $115,000 grant from the West Virginia Development Office will allow the Coal River Group to launch a marketing campaign aimed at drawing visitors from outside the state to the 88-mile Coal River Water Trail.
“We have done amazing things to grow our tourism efforts in the Coal River watershed with little or no money,” said CRG President Kris Radford. “This grant opens up a first-time opportunity to develop our growing river sports region with folks from all the surrounding states. It’s a game-changer for promoting visitor growth in the four-county watershed.”
The Coal River Water Trail, developed over the past 11 years by the CRG, includes the Little Coal River, Big Coal River, and the main-stem Coal River, in Kanawha, Lincoln, Boone and Raleigh counties.
“We started out with one boat launch and a map and now we have 20 launch sites and just got finished printing 30,000 new trail guides,” said Bill Currey, co-founder of the CRG and president of its board of directors.
The river system’s combination of long pools connected by short stretches of mild rapids make it attractive to kayak-borne anglers and kayak and canoe enthusiasts more interested in scenery and relaxation than whitewater thrills.
“Flatwater kayaking is the fastest-growing water sport in the nation, and we like to think of the Coal River Water Trail as ‘Flatwater Heaven,’ ” said Currey.