West Virginia is known for its country roads, scenic views, and Civil War history. Many consider the Mountain State to be one of the best states for hiking. Many trails lead to spectacular views of waterfalls, scenic landscapes, and historical sites.
A mountainous state with all kinds of terrain, there are hikes in the easy, moderate, and difficult range, all of which provide hikers with picturesque playgrounds in nature. Hikers of all experience levels will enjoy the outdoor paradise of West Virginia's 470+ trails. Here, we share our 10 favorite trails with the 50+ hiker in mind.
When selecting these hiking trails, we looked at the difficulty rating, distance, grade, terrain, accessibility, and scenery. We will start with our favorite easy hikes and then move to moderate picks and finally a more difficult hike.
1. Canyon Rim Overlook, New River Gorge National River
The Canyon Rim Overlook Boardwalk is rated easy and is a great hiking trail for all skill levels. Even the most advanced hiker will enjoy the view. The trail is a 0.6-mile out-and-back trail that is moderately busy with walkers and birdwatchers. The trail begins at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center near Lansing off U.S. Route 19.
The boardwalk offers scenic views of the river, the gorge, and the New River Gorge Bridge, which is the longest single-span bridge in the United States. It stretches more than 3,000 feet across the vast canyon.
This boardwalk has a fully accessible ramp to the first viewing point. You can take the wooden stairs (178 steps) down to the lower overlook for a striking view of the gorge and the bridge.
Canyon Rim Overlook Boardwalk is a favorite because of the views along the way, the ease of walking the boardwalk, and its accessibility. It is short and doesn't take a lot of time, and yet you get the massive payoff of a picturesque view.
2. Blackwater Falls Trail, Blackwater Falls State Park
Blackwater Falls is a short out-and-back trail that is great for all skill levels. The 0.4-mile heavily trafficked trail has an elevation gain of only 131 feet and is rated easy. It features a 60-foot waterfall crashing into the river and several activity options.
This hike is just a walk down some stairs to a stunning waterfall, but the spectacular view is worth taking the time to visit. This is one of the most photographed West Virginia sites. Be aware that the stairs you descend to get to the falls take you back to the parking area, so if stairs are not for you or a hiking companion, you may want to avoid this otherwise easy hike.
There is a snack shop near the parking lot.
This is one of my favorites because the falls are spectacular, and it is an easy enough hike that just about anyone can enjoy it.
3. Falls Of Hills Creek Trail, Monongahela National Forest
Although rated moderately difficult, the Falls of Hills Creek Trail is entirely paved for approximately 1,700 feet to the upper waterfall. It is also wheelchair accessible. After the first falls, there are natural trails and steps down to the middle falls, and the rest of the path is strenuous with a variety of stairways and boardwalks, which are sometimes slippery, leading to the lower falls. Overall, this is a short, uncrowded, three-quarter-mile hike with impressive views, but the walk back is more difficult.
The complete trip takes at least an hour, and if you stop for pictures at each level, or to rest, I would allow two hours for this hike. If you are planning to take photographs, the best time to make this hike is mid-day when the sun is highest since the steep, narrow gorge only permits a few hours of sunlight to reach the waterfalls.
Restrooms are available. Be aware there is no cell service available in the area.
4. Maryland Heights Loop, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
A moderately difficult trail, the five-mile Maryland Heights Loop offers stunning views, and although the beginning of the hike is uphill for half a mile, after that, the trail is easy.
This hiking loop has plenty of other hikers, so don't expect complete solitude. The elevation gain is 1,473 feet, and at the top, you’ll look out over Harpers Ferry, site of a Civil War-era raid that took place where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. The loop brings you back to your starting place.
This hike is most beautiful in the fall when leaves are changing but is enjoyable in all seasons.
I loved this hike because of the views and the fact that the most challenging part of the hike was at the beginning. Extra points for the very historical area. There are many living history museums open to the public nearby and lots to see and do besides hiking.
5. Seneca Rocks Trail, Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area
Seneca Rocks Trail is another moderately difficult hiking trail. It is out and back with no loop.
The 3.2-mile trail features a forest setting with an observation platform providing a spectacular view of the rock faces.
The trail is usually busy with other hikers, runners, and bird-watchers. It is accessible year-round and is well maintained. There are benches along the hiking trail so you can stop and take a break and enjoy the scenery.
A picnic area and visitor center near the trailhead is available for your enjoyment.
6. Endless Wall Trail, New River Gorge National River
Another heavily trafficked point-to-point, moderate trail, Endless Wall Trail is a little over two miles long and features views of the Potomac River.
The trail is used for hiking, rock climbing, and nature trips. Known for the huge rock overlooks that line the gorge, USA Today named the Endless Wall Trail the best national park hike in the nation.
Hike to Diamond Point for a panoramic view of the cliff line along the breathtaking gorge.
7. Seneca Creek Trail, Monongahela National Forest
Western, Near Riverton
A bit longer hike at 10.1 miles in length, the Seneca Creek Trail is a beautiful stream hike that also features a waterfall.
The best time for hiking this trail is between March and November, and it is rated as moderately difficult. Trail elevation gain is 757 feet, and the out-and-back route is moderately trafficked.
8. Loudoun Heights Trail, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
The Loudoun Heights Trail, a six-mile heavily trafficked out-and-back trail near Harpers Ferry, takes you to Split Rock. It is rated moderate, offers several activity options, and is accessible year-round.
Trees along the trail are painted with stripes that serve as trail markers. This trail has lots of rocks and roots, plus elevation. Hiking shoes with excellent traction are a must.
This hike provides panoramic, breathtaking views of the Potomac, the Shenandoah, and Harpers Ferry.
9. Long Point Trail, New River Gorge National River
New Haven, Near Fayetteville
Long Point Trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail that is 2.9 miles in length. It features a spectacular view of the New River Gorge Bridge at the end of the trail.
This hike is rated as moderately difficult with an elevation gain of 344 feet. I would say it is on the easy side of moderate, and the trail is well maintained. The trail is mostly used for hiking and mountain biking.
The best time for hiking this trail is between April and November. Restrooms are available at the trailhead.
10. Kaymoor Miner’s Trail
New Haven, Near Fayetteville
Kaymoor Miner’s Trail is a short mile-and-a-half steep downhill trail to an old mine; then, you follow the trail for various views that include cliffs and waterfalls. Of course, once you’re at the bottom, you have to walk back. This involves an elevation gain of 869 feet, and you are going uphill most of the way, so the hike is rated difficult. It is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail used for hiking and bird-watching. Kaymoor Miner’s Trail is accessible year-round.
Be sure to take lots of water on this hike and make sure you have sturdy shoes with good tread for the walk down the steep trail.
Note that there may be national park parking fees associated with accessing the hikes in West Virginia’s nationally protected areas.
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