Hiking West Virginia-3rd Edition  by Mary Reed

Hiking West Virginia-3rd Edition Guide Book

by Mary Reed (Falcon Guides)
Hiking West Virginia-3rd Edition  by Mary Reed
From rugged Appalachian ridges to verdant river valleys, this guide details fifty of the very best hiking trails in the state. Inside you'll find detailed maps, mile-by-mile trail descriptions, backpacking tips, and informative details about landmarks and natural history.

© 2018 Mary Reed/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking West Virginia-3rd Edition" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 51.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 51.

Join zipliners, mountain bikers, cross-country runners, disc golfers, and other fun-seekers who congregate at Grand Vue Park, a 650-acre county park that packs in about as many activities as possible in one small outdoor space. Just outside of Moundsville, Grand Vue sits high on a ridge overlooking the Ohio River Valley. The 4 Mile loop trail wraps around the ridge and passes through early successional forest and open meadows. From the trailhead area, you can get the namesake view of the Ohio River Valley and the nearby town of Moundsville.
Moundsville, WV - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 3.6
Record numbers of birds of prey are found near the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory. Once you arrive at this spot, you’ll know why they hang out here: A refurbished fire tower sits atop the “hanging” rocks at 3,800 feet and affords 360-degree views. Not only will you have a chance to see hawks and eagles, you can also take in long, narrow mountain ridges as far as the eye can see. You can even use what may be the world’s most scenically located outhouse.
Gap Mills, WV - Birding,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 1.8
The ease-to-scenery ratio is in your favor at Audra State Park. This short loop hike takes you through a hemlock and rhododendron forest; parallels the swift, boulder-strewn Middle Fork River; and leads you via boardwalk under a massive recess cave. Once you’ve finished your hike—complete with finding your own personal swimming hole—bed down for the night at the campground along the class-IV Middle Fork.
Buckhannon, WV - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.1
The mother of all long- distance trails in North America, the Appalachian Trail extends 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine. If you can’t take six months to tackle the whole thing, take a day to jump on this section of the trail, which travels near the historically significant and picturesque small town of Harpers Ferry—the unofficial halfway point along the AT. The town itself is located at the confluence of two wide, riffling mountain rivers, the Shenandoah and the Potomac. This hike takes you across the Shenandoah and up a ridge crest with a great view of the confluence and the town.
Harpers Ferry, WV - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.9
Watoga State Park, West Virginia’s largest state park, encompasses a total of 10,100 acres. The 330-mile Allegheny Trail snakes along the eastern boundary of the park, and the scenic 80.7-mile Greenbrier River Trail borders its western end. The Arrowhead and Jesse’s Cove Trails form a loop that climbs a high ridge to a wooden tower with a view to the west of the Greenbrier River Valley. A pleasant walk along a high ridge leads to a steep drop back to the Greenbrier River. There are other trails to explore in and near Watoga, so you can set up a base camp in the park at one of its two campgrounds or in a cabin if you’re looking for more comfortable lodgings.
Marlinton, WV - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5.4
Go on a snipe hunt in Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It’s not a practical joke this time; rather, the refuge is home to some 200 bird species, including Wilson’s snipe, bobolink, and northern saw- whet owl. Forest, wetlands, meadows, and the Blackwater River provide habitat for an estimated 580 plant species. Listen and look for ever- present birdlife, expect to see deer, and hope for a black bear sighting, which is not uncommon around here. But in Canaan Valley, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts: The scenery is ever-changing, yet always exceptional.
Davis, WV - Birding,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 5.4
Beartown State Park is just 107 acres, but it packs a punch in the scenery department. A maze of sandstone rocks and boulders are strewn about a dense forest. Wind and rain have eroded the deep walls and hallways of rock, surrounded by hemlocks, topped by moss and fern, and pocked with holes and cracks. A 0.5-mile boardwalk takes you through this gem of a park. A boardwalk with interpretive signs explaining the ecology directs you through this unique park. A 150-foot accessible walk also allows wheelchair users to gain access to one of the major overlooks of the park.
Marlinton, WV - Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 0.5
The Bluestone National Scenic River is wonderfully wild, and the ridges of the gorge are so steep that when you sit by the river, it appears that there are only two ways out: upstream or downstream. Luckily, both directions lead to top- notch state parks: Pipestem Resort State Park to the south and Bluestone State Park to the north. The Bluestone Turnpike Trail travels the distance between these parks. Birch and sycamore crowd the riverbank and produce shade during the heat of summer. If the shade isn’t enough to cool you off, there is a constant supply of swimming holes just a few steps away.
Princeton, WV - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 8.5
Cathedral State Park is indeed a place to worship at the altar of the natural world. It’s so magical that as you take in the hemlock forest with a canopy reaching nearly 100 feet, walk atop a carpet of moss, squeeze through rhododendron thickets, and walk along a clear, trickling stream, you half expect to see a fairy jump out from behind one of the trees. The largest hemlock in the state (along with its large cousins) is located within the park boundaries, along with more than 170 types of vascular plants, 30 tree species, and more than 50 species of wildflowers.
Aurora, WV - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 1.8
If you’ve ever visited the nearly mile-high Snowshoe Resort, it was probably in the winter. Take advantage of the “off-season” here and hit some of the 40-plus miles of trails Snowshoe offers. Snowshoe Resort is located on the top of the mountain (most ski resorts are located at the bottom), so start on the ridgetop of Cheat Mountain and follow it to the fire tower, which you can climb for a 360-degree view. Then descend the mountain to Shavers Lake and walk around it to pick up the chairlift—allowing you to hike in the mountains, but never up one. This unique West Virginia hiking experience begins and ends at a mountaintop village full of dining, lodging, and entertainment options.
Snowshoe, WV - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6.4
Nestled in the Allegheny Plateau is Twin Falls Resort State Park, which combines a rugged mountain landscape with comfortable facilities. Comfortable yet rugged also describes the Cliffside Trail, which leaves right from the campground on a flat and easy path to two stunning overlooks of the Marsh Fork and Cabin Creek valleys below. The trail is also loaded with flora and fauna—from mountain laurel to rhododendron blooms, blueberries to wild mushrooms, songbirds to reptiles. This is an excellent camping/hiking outing for the whole family.
Saulsville, WV - Birding,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 3
In truth, the trails in Dolly Sods North can be eroded and muddy, and the seemingly relentless wind can just about knock you off your feet. But it won’t be able to knock the smile off your face. This is because of the vistapalooza that is Dolly Sods North, from the sweeping views as far as the distant Shenandoah Mountains to the east to the nearby Canaan Valley to the west, and everything you’ll encounter in between, including A-list wildlife such as black bears and bald eagles. August is a great time for blueberry picking.
Davis, WV - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 10.8
The first rule of real estate is location, location, location—and Blackwater Falls State Park is hard to beat in that department. Its centerpiece is the state’s most well- known cascade, Blackwater Falls, and the 1,000-foot-deep Blackwater River Canyon. To the south spreads the rest of the Canaan Valley, an alpine valley that’s home to vast freshwater wetlands and boreal forest plant and animal communities more commonly found in Canada. This loop hike allows you to experience a little bit of everything the area has to offer: upland hardwoods and lush marshy bogs in addition to views of the Falls of Elakala, Balanced Rock, and Blackwater Canyon. At the end of the day, there are nearby lodging, food, and drinking options to satisfy the tastes of everyone from the devoted penny-pincher to the comfort seeker.
Davis, WV - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.6
When a park has more than 25 miles of developed trails, it can be difficult to choose where to begin. Not so with Twin Falls Resort State Park. The Falls Trail is a no-brainer: This short, flat path takes you to the park’s namesake twin falls, Marsh Fork Falls and Black Fork Falls. Shoulder the tripod and head out with your camera. These crashing falls embody the definition of picturesque, nestled in steep mountain slopes and framed by rhododendrons and hardwoods.
Beckley, WV - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 1.2
Mash Fork Falls is impressive enough to be included in a West Virginia waterfalls picture book for sale at the park office. If you’re a photographer, you can do a “drive-by shooting” of the falls, since they are accessible by road. Instead, opt to walk up and down Farley Ridge to the falls, allowing yourself the pleasant experience of hearing them before seeing them. Starting from the playground near the amphitheater, walk up the ridge. All the trails are marked at intersections with trail markers; look for the first trail sign in the woods, not right at the road. The forest here has magnolia in the canopy and fern covering the floor.
Princeton, WV - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.1
Only the world-famous New River Gorge with its bridge, whitewater, rock climbing, and many trails could make its tributary Glade Creek a relatively unknown destination in comparison. Allot a day to explore this creek upstream of the gorge, and you’ll be glad you did. The flat trail parallels the swiftly flowing Glade Creek, which is trout stocked, boulder strewn, and full of cannonball-worthy swimming holes. The dense canopy of hardwoods towers over an understory of mountain laurel, rhododendron, striped maple, and witch hazel. Add a developed campground and backcountry camping where you are unlikely to see another soul, and you just may find your new favorite place to spend a summer weekend.
Beckley, WV - Birding,Cross-Country Skiing,Fishing,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Rail-Trails,Trail Running,Walking - Trail Length: 11.2
Grandview is the right name for this hike. The payoff comes early—walk just a few hundred feet to an expansive view to the east of a giant oxbow in the New River. This spot, Horseshoe Bend, is the deepest part of the New River Gorge, at around 1,400 feet. The trail parallels the gorge through a forest thick with rhododendrons and hardwoods. It ends at Turkey Spur Overlook, atop a rock outcropping that also provides views of the New River Gorge—this time both to the east and west, thanks to more oxbows in this snaking whitewater river.
Beckley, WV - Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 1.8-3.6
The Greenbrier River Trail has the combined raw beauty plus infrastructure to make for an idyllic West Virginia outing. The flat 80.7-mile rail trail hugs the riffling Greenbrier River, the longest undammed river in the East. Mountains rise steeply 1,000 feet above the river valley, revealing new vistas with every step. You can travel for miles without any intrusion by civilization, yet primitive trailside campsites are augmented by the occasional small town or bed-and-breakfast for resupply and creature comforts.
Cass, WV - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Rail-Trails - Trail Length: 24.1
The best thing about environmental education is the classroom. Case in point: the Oglebay Institute’s 3.1-mile A. B. Brooks Discovery Trail System, which begins from the green-designed Schrader Environmental Education Center and includes a forest canopy walkway, a butterfly garden, and interpretive stations to help you better appreciate your surroundings. Those surroundings include a hardwood and hemlock forest, rhododendron-lined streams, and a double-decker waterfall. Add in a regular calendar of environmental education events, and you’ll find yourself ready to go back to school.
Wheeling, WV - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.2
High Falls of the Cheat River seems like a misnomer. At 100 feet wide and barely 15 feet tall, it seems they should be called Wide Falls of the Cheat River. However, the falls are at nearly 3,000 feet in elevation, making them one of the highest, in that sense, in the Mountain State. You’ll notice the elevation as you make the 3.9-mile hike over Shavers Mountain for the payoff, but the trail is not too steep and is quite varied, making the entire route enjoyable. Be forewarned—after all of your hard work, you might happen upon a crowd of people who arrived by tourist train. That’s okay, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you earned the view.
Elkins, WV - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 7.8