I have been wanting to check out this section for some time. We most often paddle the Down Elk but had not gone farther down river to the CR7 bridge. Most folks only run this section when the water is low. Today, the level was 6.2 feet when we put on and 6.05 when we took off the river. Was not sure what to expect at this level but decided to give it a go.
We drove to the takeout from Rt 19 going across Tesla Rd. The road started out as gravel and the connected with a good paved road. After we passed the campground it turned into a really rough road, lots of rocks and mud holes. It was very slow going from there to the bridge that crosses the Elk. I can understand why it is called the bridge to nowhere. Coming from Webster Springs, there would be no reason to cross this bridge. It leads to miles of dirt road and potholes and not much else.
We left my vehicle at the bridge and drove to our planned putin, which is the first takeout for the down Elk (1/2 mile upstream of the sandy beach.)
We launched from there and found lots of current and big bouncy waves. This section has more flat pools than the section above but they were not long at all. There were many places where the river split around islands and we had to choose a right or left channel. Most times we chose left as it seemed to have more water. Most all rocks were covered up. There was plenty of current through the pools. There were lots of long wave trains, a few good size holes and many waterfalls on the side.
We had sunshine and blue skies all day. It was breezy but tolerable without pogies. Water was chilly but the air temp was mid 50’s.
There was no wood in play but two cable bridges have fallen in the water and were hard to see until you were up close. They extended all the way across the river.
Overall it was a great day on the river (not so much on the road.) I did have a flat tire on the way back to Webster Springs. We chose not to go back out the way we came.
I would like to run this again at lower levels just to make it more technical. I would also consider doing a marathon of Down Elk and Way Down Elk.
See photos in the Paddling gallery