A new website and a free, downloadable cellphone app are making it easier for paddlers to travel the Coal River Walhonde Water Trail and find nearby kayak rental outfitters, restaurants, campgrounds and historic points of interest.
Launched last week by the Coal River Group, the watershed organization that developed the 88-mile water trail and opened it nine years ago, the new digital amenities are part of an effort by the CRG to attract and retain new water trail users.
Growing interest in flatwater kayaking “is bringing hundreds of new visitors to the Coal River Watershed,” said Bill Currey, chairman of the Coal River Group. “These people need better information about the water trail. The key to bringing tourism to our rural region is to take away any fears or concerns but safety and make the planning of a kayak trip user friendly.”
To create the new website, found at www.coalriverwatertrail.org, the watershed group recruited volunteers Eric Meadows, owner of Appalachian Geographic and IT Solutions of Charleston, Eric Bourland of ebwebwork.com in Washington, D.C., Matt Thompson of St. Albans and John Turner of Madison to come up with design and content.
Some of the site’s most eye-catching visual images come from a project coordinated by Turner, in which drones mounted with video cameras show each of the 17 designated boat launch sites along the water trail from all angles of approach…
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