WATERFALL HIKESSome are right off the road, others hidden in the mountains. Some are river-spanning cascades, while others are narrow creeks plunging over cliffs. But they’re all enchanting.
A path through the thick, wooded hills often leads to breathtaking views. The mountains, the streams, the moments. They give way to tall, sun-kissed waterfalls that visitors travel miles for. Or, they’re hidden gems tucked around rocky landscapes saved for the adventurous. From famous falls to lucky finds, these waterfall hikes lead to lasting memories.
Located in Tucker County, Blackwater Falls State Park is named for the iconic Blackwater Falls. The amber waters that cascade 57 feet downward are colored by the tannic acid of fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. Divided by a rocky outcrop in the center of the Blackwater River, the falls split into a photogenic bridal veil cascade that ends in a lush pool. The falls are accessible from a series of steps, as well as several viewing platforms.
Located in the popular Blackwater Falls State Park, Elakala Falls are a series of four plunging falls that are more off the beaten path. The first two falls are easily navigable for most hikers, but the descent into the 200-foot gorge to see the lowest of the falls is rockier and can be dangerous for less experienced hikers. Use your best judgment to get a glimpse of these secluded falls.
The largest waterfall on the New River, Sandstone Falls spans the entire width at 1,500 feet. The cascading series is divided by a series of islands and drops 10 to 25 feet. These waterfalls mark the transition in the New River from flatlands into a gorge in a dramatic fashion. The falls form the New River’s final flow through the New River Gorge to its confluence with the Gauley River, which then forms the Kanawha River.
Easily viewable from scenic route 60 just below the junction of the New and Gauley Rivers, these falls mark the upper limits of barge traffic on the Kanawha, and also form a divide between the more industrial landscape downstream and a narrow Appalachian gorge upstream. For the most up-close and personal experience, try paddle boarding or canoeing from the boat launch downstream; there are many magical little grottoes and coves hidden behind the falls.
Located along the Midland Trail, Cathedral Falls is an easy roadside stop that leads to dramatic, gothic falls. Formed by a small tributary to the New River that plunges over sandstone and shale cliffs, these delicate falls trickle downward, creating stunning falls that you can get right up beside.
Twin Falls Resort State Park
At Twin Falls Resort State Park, you can experience two unique waterfalls. Located about 30 miles south of Beckley, Black Fork and Marsh Fork falls are perfect during wet spring months. The beautiful, gentle falls have hidden alcoves behind the curtains, and they’re fun for all to explore.
Falls of Hills Creek
Hills Creek, just 5 miles from the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center in Monongahela National Forest, and boasts some of the cleanest, clearest water in West Virginia. The 3 falls of Hills Creek are hidden in a wonderland of rhododendrons and moss. The first falls are accessible by a 1,700-foot walkway, with more rugged trails reaching the other 2, which are higher and arguably more scenic. Be adventurous, and see them all!