7 Best Hikes in West Virginia

West Virginia is a state known for its stunning landscapes and outdoor activities, and hiking is one of the best ways to experience its natural beauty. Here’s a list of some of the best hikes in West Virginia:

1. Dolly Sods Wilderness

Dolly Sods Wilderness is like a slice of Canada tucked away in West Virginia. Its vast landscapes range from sweeping bogs and heath barrens to rugged rocky plains, making it feel more like the distant tundras up north than the Appalachians. For hikers, the trails are many, but if you’re looking for a good starting point, Red Creek and Blackbird Knob trails are among the local favorites. Trust me, it’s a hiker’s paradise that’ll have you coming back for more.

General Stats:

  • Number of Trails: There are more than 20 different trails or trail segments within Dolly Sods, and they can be combined in various ways for longer hikes or backpacking trips.
  • Total Miles: The total mileage of all trails in Dolly Sods is approximately 47 miles.
  • Average Difficulty: Varies, but many trails are of Moderate difficulty with some being Easy and others being more Difficult, especially when considering factors like elevation change and trail conditions.
  • Most Popular Hiking Trail: The popularity of trails can vary based on the season, personal preference, and other factors. Historically, trails like Bear Rocks and Blackbird Knob have been quite popular for their scenic views and accessibility.

Here are some of the most popular hiking trails within Dolly Sods Wilderness:

Trail NameLength (miles)Estimated Difficulty
Bear Rocks Trail2.4Easy
Blackbird Knob Trail2.4Moderate
Breathed Mountain Trail2.3Moderate
Dobbin Grade Trail4.0Moderate to Difficult
Fisher Spring Run Trail3.0Moderate
Rocky Ridge Trail2.2Moderate
Raven Ridge Trail2.8Moderate
Red Creek Trail6.0Moderate to Difficult

2. Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks is a prominent and iconic rock formation located in the Monongahela National Forest. Apart from hiking, it’s a renowned location for rock climbing, with its sheer cliffs offering a range of climbing routes of various difficulties. Whether visiting for hiking, climbing, or just to take in the stunning views, Seneca Rocks is one of the must-see landmarks in West Virginia.

General Stats:

  • Number of Trails: Seneca Rocks offers a handful of established trails, with the most prominent being the Seneca Rocks Trail. There are also several side and connecting trails for those interested in exploring more of the area.
  • Total Miles: The total mileage of trails around Seneca Rocks is approximately 6 miles, with the main Seneca Rocks Trail being about 3.2 miles round trip.
  • Average Difficulty: Most trails around Seneca Rocks are of Moderate difficulty, with some sections being steeper or more challenging due to rocky terrain. The elevation change and sometimes narrow pathways can add to the challenge, especially for those unfamiliar with the terrain.
  • Most Popular Hiking Trail: The Seneca Rocks Trail is undeniably the most popular hiking trail in the area. It leads hikers to an observation platform that provides breathtaking views of the North and South Peaks of Seneca Rocks and the surrounding valleys.

Here are some of the most popular hiking trails within Seneca Rocks:

Trail NameLength (miles)Estimated Difficulty
Seneca Rocks Trail3.2 (round trip)Moderate
Yokum’s Bench Trail1.5Easy to Moderate
Roy Gap Road Trail1.0Easy

(Note: This is a generalized overview of some trails in the Seneca Rocks area. Trail lengths and difficulties are approximate. Seneca Rocks is more known for its climbing than its extensive hiking opportunities, so the trail options are more limited compared to places like Dolly Sods.)

3. Endless Wall Trail

The Endless Wall Trail in West Virginia is a real gem for nature lovers. Spanning around 2.7 miles, this moderately easy hike treats visitors to breathtaking views of the New River Gorge. Along the way, there are multiple overlooks, perfect for photo ops or just taking in the vastness of the gorge. Not just for hikers, rock climbers also frequent the area, given the numerous climbing routes the cliffs offer. If you’re in the mood for a blend of scenic beauty and a bit of adventure, this trail is a must-visit!

General Stats:

  • Number of Trails: The Endless Wall area primarily features the main Endless Wall Trail, but there are a few side trails and connectors that hikers can explore.
  • Total Miles: The main Endless Wall Trail is approximately 2.7 miles in length, with additional side trails and connectors adding to the total distance.
  • Average Difficulty: The trail is generally considered Moderate, though some side trails or offshoots can be more challenging.
  • Most Popular Hiking Trail: Without a doubt, the Endless Wall Trail is the star attraction of the area, offering panoramic views of the New River Gorge.

Endless Wall Trails

Trail NameLength (miles)Estimated Difficulty
Endless Wall Trail2.7Moderate
Fern Creek Trail (connector)0.8Easy to Moderate

4. Cranberry Wilderness

Cranberry Wilderness in West Virginia is a sprawling expanse of pristine forests, trickling streams, and miles of trails waiting to be explored. Nestled within the Monongahela National Forest, this area is a haven for backpackers and hikers seeking solitude and a connection with untouched nature. With its diverse ecosystems and bird-watching opportunities, it’s no wonder Cranberry Wilderness is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts.

General Stats:

  • Number of Trails: Cranberry Wilderness boasts over 15 different trails, ranging from short jaunts to challenging multi-day treks.
  • Total Miles: The combined trails span approximately 75 miles across the wilderness area.
  • Average Difficulty: Trail difficulty varies, but many lie in the Moderate to Difficult range, especially considering the remoteness and sometimes rugged terrain.

Cranberry Wilderness Trails

Trail NameLength (miles)Estimated Difficulty
North-South Trail16.5Moderate to Difficult
Middle Fork Trail6.0Moderate
Big Beechy Trail6.7Moderate to Difficult
Cranberry River Trail16.0Moderate
Hell for Certain Branch Trail5.0Difficult
South Fork Trail13.0Moderate to Difficult
Broad Run Trail4.5Moderate
Forks of Cranberry Trail4.0Moderate
Laurelly Branch Trail3.0Moderate
Red Lick Trail3.8Moderate
Tumbling Rock Trail2.5Difficult
Bishop Knob Trail2.5Moderate
Rough Run Trail3.0Moderate
Red Spruce Trail1.0Easy
Dogway Trail4.0Moderate

5. Blackwater Falls State Park

Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park is a picturesque escape known for its cascading, amber-tinted waterfall. The park’s name stems from the waters of the Blackwater River, tinted blackish-brown by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. Besides the iconic falls, the park offers various trails that wind through dense forests, providing glimpses of other smaller falls, diverse plant life, and stunning vistas.

General Stats:

  • Number of Trails: Blackwater Falls State Park has around 20 different trails to cater to hikers of all levels.
  • Total Miles: The park offers approximately 20 miles of trails, each providing a unique experience.
  • Average Difficulty: While many trails are of Easy to Moderate difficulty, there are a few that challenge even seasoned hikers.

Blackwater Falls State Park Trails

Trail NameLength (miles)Estimated Difficulty
Elakala Trail0.4Moderate
Gentle Trail0.5Easy
Balanced Rock Trail0.2Easy
Red Spruce Trail0.5Moderate
Yellow Birch Trail1.0Moderate
Lindy Point Trail0.8Moderate
Blackwater Canyon Trail1.0Difficult
Pase Point Trail0.8Moderate
Dobbin House Trail2.8Moderate
Exercise Trail0.5Easy
Nature Trail0.5Easy
Elakala to Blackwater Lodge0.6Moderate
Shay Trace Trail1.4Moderate
Dave’s Trail1.5Difficult
Rail Grade Trail1.5Moderate
Alder Trail1.3Moderate
Canaan Loop Road2.5Moderate
Limerock Trail1.0Moderate
Big Run Trail1.0Difficult
Balsam Fir Trail0.5Easy

Official Map of Blackwater Falls State Park

6. Spruce Knob

Perched as the highest point in West Virginia, Spruce Knob towers at 4,863 feet, offering visitors breathtaking panoramic views. Its unique environment, characterized by windswept spruce trees and rock outcroppings, feels almost otherworldly. Located within the Monongahela National Forest, the area boasts a number of trails that snake through dense spruce forests, highland meadows, and along pristine mountain streams, making it a favorite spot for hikers and nature lovers.

General Stats:

  • Number of Trails: Spruce Knob offers around 10 main trails, but there are additional connectors and offshoots to explore.
  • Total Miles: Cumulatively, the trails cover roughly 60 miles in and around the Spruce Knob area.
  • Average Difficulty: Trails range from Easy walks to Difficult treks, catering to a variety of hiker skills and preferences.
Trail NameLength (miles)Estimated Difficulty
Whispering Spruce Trail0.5Easy
Huckleberry Trail6.0Moderate to Difficult
High Meadows Trail6.0Moderate
Lumberjack Trail2.5Moderate
Judy Springs Trail3.5Moderate
Seneca Creek Trail16.5Moderate to Difficult
Horton Trail2.8Moderate
Bear Hunter Trail3.0Difficult
Allegheny Mountain Trail12.0Moderate to Difficult
Spruce Knob Lake Trail1.0Easy

From serene walks around the lake to challenging backcountry adventures, Spruce Knob has a bit of everything for those eager to experience West Virginia’s high-altitude beauty.

7. Canyon Rim Boardwalk

The Canyon Rim Boardwalk offers visitors an accessible way to take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Located near the renowned New River Gorge Bridge, this boardwalk gently descends, providing multiple observation decks with jaw-dropping views of the river, rapids, and the majestic bridge itself. It’s the perfect spot for photographers, families, or anyone looking for a relaxed way to appreciate nature’s grandeur.

General Stats:

  • Number of Trails: Technically, the Canyon Rim Boardwalk is one primary trail, but it connects to a few other pathways in the New River Gorge area.
  • Total Miles: The boardwalk itself stretches for approximately 0.7 miles.
  • Average Difficulty: The boardwalk is considered Easy, designed to be accessible for most visitors, including those with mobility challenges.

For a leisurely stroll with unmatched views of the New River Gorge, the Canyon Rim Boardwalk is a must-visit, ensuring memorable moments for all who tread its path.

Where To Go From Here

West Virginia, often dubbed the “Mountain State,” offers a myriad of hiking opportunities that truly showcase the heart and soul of Appalachia. From the rugged beauty of the New River Gorge to the serene heights of Spruce Knob, each trail captures a unique aspect of this region’s vast natural canvas.

As you lace up your hiking boots and venture out, remember that every step taken on these trails isn’t just a journey through nature, but also a step through the rich tapestry of West Virginia’s cultural and natural history. So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, the best hikes in West Virginia promise an experience that will linger in your memories, beckoning you back time and again.

**It’s always good to note that trail conditions and difficulty can be influenced by weather, maintenance, and other external factors. Before embarking on a hike, it’s recommended to consult local trail maps, park officials, or local websites for the most accurate and recent information.**

Jim Murphy

Jim's love for camping started at an early age. His parents would take him camping every summer, where he'd spend his days getting quality time in with his dad and his nights eating too many smores.

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