Cacapon River Watershed

The Cacapon and Lost River lies just over 100 miles west of Washington D.C., tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. It is one of the area’s best kept natural secrets. The 125-mile long Cacapon & Lost River Valley is known for its striking scenery, excellent fishing and hunting, diverse wildlife, and fine canoeing & kayaking. As the third largest tributary of the Potomac River, the Cacapon and Lost River is an American Heritage River.

The River is comprised of three major segments and many smaller streams. Its headwater stream is known as the Lost River. This 30.9-mile-long stretch receives its distinctive name because, during low water, it abruptly terminates into a one-mile underground course starting near the town of McCauley, WV. As the River emerges just west of Wardensville, WV, it takes the name Cacapon. The traditional Native American translation of the word "Cacapon" means Medicine or Healing Waters.

The River and its tributaries are solely within West Virginia and meander through portions of Hardy, Hampshire and Morgan Counties before they join the Potomac River near the town of Great Cacapon. The largest tributary of the Cacapon, equal in size to the Lost River segment, is the North River.

Overall, the 680 square-mile watershed is one of the most pristine of those draining into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Statistics produced by the West Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in 2006 indicated that 86 percent of the 125-mile-long watershed remained forested, leading to its 2007 designation as the most biodiverse of the Potomac River tributary watersheds.

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