10 iconic overlooks in West Virginia that will WOW you
What makes a view scenic? Is it the layers of purple mountains blending into the horizon? Acres of rolling green farmland? A river winding through a steep canyon? Or is it the sparkling lights of a city at night? These scenic overlooks that will leave you in awe, but trust us … there are waaaay more than 10 beautiful vistas, so get out and see for yourself why West Virginia is Almost Heaven!
1. Long Point
New River Gorge National River
The New River Gorge has so many amazing overlooks that it’s hard to pick a favorite, from popular roadside stop at Hawks Nest State Park to the river’s rhododendron-framed horseshoe bend at Grandview. But if you want to take a short hike, you’ll find many other stunning views. The 1.6-mile Long Point Trail leads to the Long Point rock outcrop that rewards hikers with a magnificent view of the New River Gorge Bridge’s entire 3,030-foot span. It’s also worth noting that the Diamond Point overlook from the 2.4-mile Endless Wall Trail (named for the rock face that attracts climbers from all over the world) is so well loved that it won USA Today’s favorite national park hike.
2. Carnifex Ferry
Gauley River National Recreation Area
The Gauley River Canyon generally isn’t as deep as the New River Gorge, but it’s not wanting for scenic overlooks. One of the best ones can be found at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park where, during fall Gauley Season, viewers can look down at the rock-strewn Gauley River and watch rafters navigate the crashing Class V rapids at Pillow Rock. (The goal is to get close enough to touch Pillow Rock with your paddle without flipping the boat or anyone falling out!)
3. Coopers Rock
Coopers Rock State Forest
The main overlook just off the parking area at Coopers Rock State Forest offers a jaw-dropping view of the Cheat River Canyon. (Fun fact: Morgantown native Don Knotts, aka Deputy Barney Fife, once scaled this cliff at night!) You can also hike the 1.5-mile Raven Rock Trail to survey the canyon from a different angle and get a close-up view of the towering formation known as — you guessed it — Raven Rock.
If you’re into birdwatching, then you’ll really love the view from this old fire tower atop Peters Mountain. Birders come from all over West Virginia and surrounding states to observe migrating hawks, eagles, falcons and osprey. (You’ll find the heaviest “air traffic” during the fall migration, from August to November.) Sightseers are enthralled by these amazing birds soaring and swooping over the peaceful valley below.
5. Maryland Heights
Harpers Ferry National Park
OK, technically, this trail is in Maryland — but it leads to a spectacular view of Historic Harpers Ferry at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. You’ll also find the ruins of Union Civil War forts, trenches, gunpowder magazines and infantry encampments. (Note: The 6.5-mile round-trip hike is steep and rocky in places.) In Harpers Ferry itself, you can climb the steps past St. Peter’s Catholic Church to the overlook of Jefferson Rock, where President Thomas Jefferson once stood and marveled at the beauty of the connecting rivers.
Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area
The 2.6-mile out-and-back trail leading to the top of Seneca Rocks is easier than you’d think. While it may be a bit of a climb, this well-maintained trail has switchbacks to reduce its steepness, and there are benches along the way where hikers can rest. The 900-foot rock formation (a popular climbing destination) oversees the North Fork River and surrounding valley. And while you’re in the area, you’ll want to make the drive to the top of Spruce Knob, the highest point in the state. An observation tower just beyond the parking area offers breathtaking views atop the 4,863-foot Spruce Mountain.
7. Lindy Point
Blackwater Falls State Park
Blackwater Falls is best known for the magnificent 62-foot waterfall that forms the centerpiece of the park, but you’ll also find some equally beautiful views at Lindy Point Overlook. The 0.4-mile Lindy Point Trail is a fairly flat hike that leads to a wooden observation platform with an unspoiled view of the Blackwater River Canyon.
8. Fort Boreman Hill
You don’t have to be perched high atop a mountain to take in the best views; West Virginia’s lower elevations along the Ohio River offer some pretty amazing sights, too. Once the site of a Union fort during the Civil War, Fort Boreman Park (named for the state’s first governor, Arthur Boreman) has several overlooks that present peaceful imagery of the barges and sternwheelers rolling on the river below. It’s also a great place to watch the sun set!
9. Grand Vue Park
Grand Vue Park does double duty: first as a prime spot for scenic views of Moundsville, and second as a recreational base, with offerings from golf to zip lining. That’s right: A zip line canopy tour offers visitors the opportunity to soar high above this sleepy city on the Ohio River.
10. Cranny Crow
Lost River State Park
A hidden gem in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, Lost River State Park offers a quiet getaway with cabin lodging and activities like hiking and horseback riding. One trail you don’t want to miss is Millers Rock, a 3.5 trek leads to the park’s famous Cranny Crow overlook. From atop the 3,200-foot-perch on Big Ridge Mountain, you can enjoy a scenic panorama of five counties (including some in Virginia).
What are your favorite scenic overlooks in West Virginia?
This post was last updated on July 30, 2020