Heritage TrailsAs John Denver so eloquently put it: Life is old here, older than the trees. Explore West Virginia’s heritage and learn about the moments that will in live forever in the history of our mountains.
West Virginia has a rich history and heritage worth exploring. Experience the history first-hand on foot or embark on your journey from the comfort of your car.
History on Foot
Stretching from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine, the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail passes through 14 states, rewarding hikers with astounding scenery over miles and miles of rugged terrain.
Four miles of the Appalachian Trail pass through historic Harpers Ferry, which is also home to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy—the trail’s headquarters. Here you can pick up guides and maps and shop for Appalachian Trail souvenirs. The staff is happy to answer any questions you may have, or you might just want to hang around and share trail stories with the other hikers who pass through.
The trail here is ranked easy to moderate, with an elevation between 265 and 1,200 feet. It’s just a few steps from Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the conflux of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, so it’s an ideal place to spend the day before or after your hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Wheeling Heritage Rail-Trails
The Wheeling Heritage Trails run on the former B&O line. These are known locally as two trails that connect in downtown Wheeling: the Ohio River Trail and the Wheeling Creek Trail. The route is flat and paved, and beautiful signs along the way provide a self-guided tour of Wheeling’s past.
Greenbrier River Trail
The Greenbrier River Trail is a 78-mile former railroad now used for hiking, biking and horseback riding. It is the longest trail of its kind in West Virginia. The trail provides many breathtaking views as it passes through several small towns, crosses 35 bridges, goes through two tunnels and cuts through some of West Virginia’s most remote areas.
The Greenbrier River Trail is one of 50 Millennium Legacy Trails in the United States. On the trail, you can see remnants of the old railroad, including many whistleposts and historical mile markers. Beyond Beard (mile post 31) is one of the trails’ two spectacular tunnels: the 402-foot-long Droop Mountain Tunnel, built in 1900, and Sharps Tunnel, 511 feet long and built in 1899.
History on the Road
Civil War Trails
The story of West Virginia tells us much about our nation’s most definitive war. Originally a part of Virginia’s Old Dominion, West Virginia was born of the Civil War when it seceded from the Confederacy.
One of the best ways to learn about this history is to travel across our beautiful landscape and visit stops along the “Civil War Discovery Trail,” a national network of more than 300 historical sites about the conflict.
If you’re interested in receiving a trail map, please contact the West Virginia Tourism Office.
Historic National Road
Cruise along the Historic National Road in Wheeling for a glimpse into the area’s past featuring stone bridges, Victorian architecture, museums, and historic sites along the way.
George Washington Heritage Trail
Discover the natural and cultural history of 18th century towns, 19th century industrial sites, and more along the George Washington Heritage Trail in the Eastern Panhandle.
National Coal Heritage Trail
Wind through more than 187 rugged miles of scenic industrial heritage along the National Coal Heritage Trail.
Spanning the width of West Virginia, the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike combines the best of Civil War history with breathtaking scenic views.
Find a Heritage Trail
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