Gentle Hikes for All Ages in Almost Heaven
With a nickname like the Mountain State, you might think hiking is a tough chore in West Virginia. But West Virginia has plenty of valleys and hollows offering easy walks with little elevation change. Add to that mix the hundreds of miles of rail trails and dozens of boardwalk paths, and the hiking opportunities are endless.
Check out the wide variety of easy and moderate trails you’ll find in West Virginia:
The Riverwalk Trail in Buckhannon offers 3 miles of paved, flat path that loops beside the river. The area is marked with benches, picnic tables and a boat launch.
The loop around the park, the Rose Garden, and the crushed limestone path near the memorial arch are all accessible and have benches for resting.
Sunrise Carriage Trail
In Charleston, the Sunrise Carriage Trail is a 1.4-mile uphill (or downhill, depending on which end you start) walk connecting the riverfront to the South Hills. Originally built as a horse-drawn carriage trail, the gravel path winds around the hill past historic markers and scenic overlooks with benches for resting.
West Virginia State Parks and Forests:
West Virginia State Park and Forests have hundreds of miles of trails for all skill levels. Here are just a few of the easier trails you’ll find:
Blackwater Falls State Park
The main waterfall at Blackwater Falls State Park can be accessed from Gentle Trail, a quarter-mile paved path from the parking lot to the observation deck. Elakala Trail to Elakala Falls and Lindy Point Trail to the Blackwater Canyon overlook are single-track trails with a few roots and rocks to navigate, but the trails are short (half mile or less) and don’t require a lot of climbing.
Pipestem Resort State Park
Pipestem Resort State Park has several easy-to-moderate trails that offer scenic views of the Bluestone Canyon and Long Branch Lake.
Camp Creek State Park
The White Oak Road and Trail at Camp Creek State Park passes through thick groves of rhododendron and offers scenic views of Campbell Falls. Its crushed gravel terrain is fairly easy to navigate with a stroller or wheelchair.
Lost River State Park
Lost River State Park has a number of easy trails in the lower elevations of the park grounds and some gently sloping roadways that are tree-covered and cool in the summer months.
Boardwalk trails provide convenient access to some of West Virginia’s most beautiful scenery. Many of them have handrails, and some are even ADA-accessible.
Sandstone Falls Boardwalk
At the largest waterfall on the New River, the quarter-mile, ADA-accessible Sandstone FallsBoardwalk crosses two bridges leading to islands and observation decks offering fantastic views of the 1,500-foot-wide falls and access to fishing areas.
Beartown State Park
The half-mile boardwalk at Beartown State Park winds through towering rock formations in a secluded forest just outside the parking area. (Note: This boardwalk does have steps, but there are benches and resting spots along the way.)
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area has a wheelchair-accessible, half-mile boardwalk guiding visitors through a boreal-type bog showcasing flora commonly found at higher latitudes, like cranberries, sphagnum moss and carnivorous plants.
West Virginia is laced with hundreds of miles of converted rail trails, all with flat or gentle grades and surfaces of crushed stone or asphalt. Many of these are wheelchair accessible.
Greenbrier River Trail
The 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail is the longest trail of its kind in West Virginia. Once a Chesapeake and Ohio rail line, the trail follows the scenic Greenbrier River from Lewisburg to Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. The trail also passes through Watoga State Park, where you can find cabin lodging and camping. The wide, shallow Greenbrier River is a popular destination for fishing and swimming, making it an ideal place to spend the day with the grandkids.
Deckers Creek Rail Trail
You don’t have to stray far from the city to find a nice place to convene with nature. The 19-mile Deckers Creek Rail Trail is part of a system of rail trails that crisscross through Morgantown.
The trail—one of the highlights of Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park—offers scenic views of the Monongahela River valley and roiling rapids and waterfalls of Deckers Creek to the trail’s end near Reedsville. Points of interest include the historic community of Arthurdale, the nation’s first New Deal homestead subsistence project.
Wheeling Heritage Rail-Trail
Wheeling Heritage Rail-Trail covers over 16 miles of the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from downtown Wheeling to a wooded corridor outside the city. At the trails northern end, you can pick up the 7-mile Brooke Pioneer Trail along the Ohio River to Wellsburg.
North Bend Rail Trail
The 72-mile long North Bend Rail Trail showcases rural countryside and small towns in north-central West Virginia. The trail can be accessed from North Bend State Park, where you can find lodging and dining. If you hike the section of trail near Harrisville, be sure to check out Berdine’s Five and Dime, one of the oldest five and dime stores in the country.Find More Outdoor Activities
This post was last updated on March 17, 2022