One of the main objectives of the Coal River Water Trail is to increase recreation throughout the watershed. By providing safe, easily accessible boat launches throughout the Water Trail, the Coal River Group hopes to get more people out fishing, paddling, and enjoying the watershed.


The rivers provide an exciting number of easy-to-negotiate rapids. Upper Falls, a Class 2 rapid, is the biggest obstacle on the water trail. The existing dam and dangerous sluice way make the falls treacherous for beginners, so we advise paddlers to take out at the new public access site just upstream at Meadowood Park and portage to the put-in below the falls.

Every year the CRG offers two group paddle trips a month, beginning in April and running through the Fall. Each trip visits a different section of the river, so by the end of the season paddlers have covered almost the entire Coal River Water Trail. Trips are open to the public, although paddlers need to bring their own boat or arrange to rent or borrow a boat. For the full trip schedule, check our events calendar and the Paddle Trips page.

Coal River Canoe & Kayak, based in St. Albans, is the official boat rental service on the Coal Rivers. Visit the website for more information on rates and availability:

The rivers are generally clean and mostly free of dangerous pollutants, but the E-Coli counts have been high on the lower Coal River. The rivers reach flood stage very quickly after heavy rains and can rise as much as 16 feet above normal levels in just a few hours. Check local weather and our stream gauges before planning a trip.


The Coal Rivers host a diverse fishery, offering angling opportunities for spotted and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, striper, walleye, and muskie.

To learn more about fishing the Coal Rivers and how to obtain a West Virginia fishing license, call (304) 558-2758 or visit

The Coal River Group is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the protecting, preserving, and promoting the Coal River watershed.

The Coal River Group • PO Box 363 • St. Albans, WV 25177 • • 304-722-3055