As part of our efforts to promote the outstanding natural qualities of the Cheat River Friends of the Cheat has developed and maintained several important river access points. Over the past ten years we have secured four key access points and worked within the community to keep other spots open.
Albright has been the start for Cheat Canyon trips since the mid-1950′s. While there are several access points in town, each had its drawbacks. When Friends of the Cheat purchased the property used to stage the annual Cheat Festival they planned to create a river access point for commercial and private access. A parking lot was created in 1995, along with a changing house and signage. Wood for construction of the change house was donated by Allegheny Wood Products.
Looking downstream toward the Cheat Canyon from the Albright Festival Grounds put-in.
Jenkinsburg is the site of an old logging town in the heart of a deep canyon where the Big Sandy Creek joins the Cheat River. It has been a vital access point for white water paddlers running both the Cheat Canyon and Lower Big Sandy since the mid-50′s. The area around the “high bridge” over the Cheat River has been a popular swimming and picnicking spot for decades. The area became increasingly popular in the 1990′s when it saw considerable abuse from off-road vehicles and large party groups. It became notorious for waist-deep mud holes and industrial-strength litter.
In 2007 Friends of the Cheat worked closely with the landowner and the West Virginia DNR to repair damage and improve access and improve parking here and spearheaded a major fundraising effort. Click here to get the full story of how it was developed.
The area around the old Rockville bridge is a vital access point for two whitewater runs on the Big Sandy River: an upper intermediate section and a lower stretch of expert whitewater. This is also a popular spot for hikers heading downriver to Wonder Falls to leave their cars. Parking was very limited, and it was often difficult to access the river without blocking traffic. After several years of work Friends of the Cheat was able to create a new parking on river right, just upstream of the Rockville Bridge. This provides space for over 30 cars, more than enough to relieve congestion on busy spring weekends. Click here to get the story of how it developed.
Without their hard work, the Rockville access in the background would not exist. From left to right: Scott Rotruck: VP of Corporate Relations-Chesapeake Energy, Charlie Walbridge: Board Member-Friends of the Cheat/American Whitewater, and Keith Pitzer: Executive Director-Friends of the Cheat.
In 2009, after a decade of fundraising and negotiating, Friends of the Cheat finalized the purchase of the former Patriot Coal prep plant site from Patriot Mining Company, a subsidiary of the International Coal Group (ICG). The land consists of approximately 17.5 acres in the community of Preston along Route 72 in Preston County. Our goal is to provide public access to the river for fishermen and boaters, and access for hiking and biking on the proposed rail trail running from Kingwood to Rowlesburg along the Cheat River Narrows. Long range plans include a green building to serve as the FOC office, along with a public interpretive area with information detailing the rich history of the area and the science of water quality restoration. To assist Friends of the Cheat with their plans, ICG constructed a river access trail and marked off a parking area free of charge. Follow developments on the Rail Trail here.