The South Branch of the Potomac River flows from the ridge and valley area of Pendleton County north through the Eastern Panhandle of the state and meets with the North Branch to create the Potomac River. Along the way, it flows through Franklin, Petersburg, Moorefield and Romney before reaching the Potomac. The river sections of the South Branch that run from Petersburg to the Potomac River total 75 miles. Overall, this is a popular float/fishing river that meanders through mostly pastoral settings. The first two sections are considered whitewater and are listed below. The remaining sections are listed in the Canoeing category in this guide.
Petersburg to Old Fields -
- 17 miles. Class I-II.
- This part of the river meanders through the pastoral landscape of the South Branch Valley. It consists of a few ledges and wave trains, but also a good bit of slow moving water.
- Put-In: Petersburg Rt. 220 bridge 38.988422, -79.121303 Access is also available at the 28/55 bridge and cr 13 bridge. Take-Out: Old Fields bridge 39.103594, -78.958795
Old Fields to Sector (The Trough)
- 11 miles, Class I-II.
- This is a classic float/fishing trip that can be done as an overnight. The river enters a narrow forested valley after the first few miles. This is the first spot in West Virginia that Bald Eagles returned and nested in 1981. Keep an eye open, they are still there.
- River Level - The Springfield gauge should be 1.8 ft or higher.
- Put-In: Old Fields bridge 39.103594, -78.958795 Take-Out: (Trough General Store) 39.227961, -78.852400
The South Branch River is located in Eastern West Virginia, flowing across the panhandle. Google directions below are to the Old Fields bridge. see the GPS coordinates on the specific sections above for other put-in and take-out locations.
Books- "A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to West Virginia", "Paddling Virginia and West Virginia: A Guide to the Area's Greatest Paddling Adventures"