ALEXANDER – Did you know there’s a new way for the public to access the Buckhannon River in Alexander, a small community located in southeastern Upshur County?
Create Buckhannon has been working for some time to make it easier for people who live here and visit the area to access the Buckhannon River at various points and recently, they worked in collaboration with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the West Virginia Division of Highways.
“This new point provides public access to the Buckhannon River for canoes and kayaks,” Create Buckhannon member Buck Edwards said.
Edwards said Create Buckhannon, which coordinated the construction of the new Alexander boat ramp, took on these projects several years ago following a series of ‘What’s Next?’ community forums.
“One of the items that came out of these ‘What’s Next?’ gatherings (which were sponsored by Create Buckhannon) was that people wanted better access to the Buckhannon River,” Edwards said. “So, Create Buckhannon started looking at ways to do that.”
One of the ways to accomplish that goal, according to Edwards, was to provide public access points, i.e., boat ramps, into the Buckhannon River for canoes, kayaks and other light recreational watercraft.
“Our first goal was to build a fishing pier down at the Riverwalk; however, there were a lot of things involved with that, so it was difficult to get that off of the ground really quick,” Edwards said. “We went to plan B and built a boat ramp at Hampton with the goal of building more of these access points.”
During the spring of 2021, he said Create Buckhannon orchestrated the installation of a new boat ramp that serves as a kayaking and canoeing access point to the Buckhannon River in Alexander, which is located north of Selbyville in southern Upshur County.
“We partnered with the Division of Natural Resources and the West Virginia Division of Highways to get access to that piece of property,” he said. “Next, we hired a contractor to come in and do the work. The DNR provided a sign that has been installed.”
Edwards said the Alexander access point includes a nice, ample parking area, and Create Buckhannon members planted peach trees, daffodils and pampas grass along the gravel path leading to the river.
“It is a real nice access point, and we know it is getting quite a bit of use,” he said. “The boat launch at Hampton is also getting loads of use.”
He said the Hampton access point/boat ramp was completed a few years back. That project entailed taking an old, abandoned lot where illicit activity sometimes occurred and transforming it into an exceptional boat ramp where folks can launch motorized boats.
“We turned that lot into a really pretty place in the middle of town in Hampton,” Edwards said. “It has been really well-maintained, and the community really likes it. It gets a ton of use.”
Edwards said Create Buckhannon’s goal for the future is to install two more boat ramps to the Buckhannon River: one in Alton, which is can be found off the Alton Ridge Road north of Alexander, and a second in the Ten Mile area, which is located off Ten Mile Road in the Tallmansville area.
“We need to get those done by the end of this year,” Edwards said. “The one at Alton will go on private property, so the DNR has to run that through their legal department and get a lease drawn up and signed before we can proceed. [Regarding] the one at Ten Mile, we are looking to partner again with the Department of Highways to gain access to the property adjacent to the bridge in Ten Mile.”
“Our goal is to [create] access to the whole river so folks can go from ramp to ramp, based on their skill level,” Edwards added. “It is our goal to open that up and have people become familiar with the river, and, hopefully, people will protect the Buckhannon River a little more and care a little more about it.”
Edwards said the installation of a new boat ramp is an economic benefit for Upshur County.
“We have people coming to the county to use the Buckhannon River,” he said. “At Hampton boat ramp, often we see cars from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia parked there. They want to fish at the top of the Buckhannon Pool, and it is not only a recreational thing, but an economic driver for the county.”
Edwards said Create Buckhannon also wants to educate the public on what to expect in various stretches of the Buckhannon River near the access points.
“Once the Ten Mile River Access is completed, folks need to realize there is some whitewater, and it is not appropriate for novices,” he said. “That section is not for a novice kayaker or novice canoer. From Alexander to Alton and Alton to Ten Mile, those are stretches that most people can run. The Hampton boat/river access goes all the way down to the Riverwalk in Buckhannon.”
Another goal of Create Buckhannon is to complete the fishing pier at the Elizabeth J. ‘Binky’ Poundstone Riverwalk Trail in Buckhannon.
“It has taken us a little more time than we thought, and we need to put a little more focus on the fishing pier,” Edwards said. “We will be digging a little deeper to get that completed. The permits are all in order for that. We lost a very valuable partner when Dominion and the Atlantic Coast pipeline shut down.”
The river access at Alexander was completed around the beginning of April 2021, and getting to the new boat ramp is easy.
“Follow Route 20 to the West Virginia Wildlife Center and turn left and follow that road to Alexander,” Edwards said. “Just stay to the left and do not turn off. The Alexander River Access is located at the end of the bridge in Alexander.”
If you go: From Buckhannon, follow Route 20 South through Hinkleville and French Creek and turn left at the Alexander-Helvetia Road near the Wildlife Center. Then, follow the Alexander-Helvetia, or Route 11, to the end of the bridge in Alexander.