Wildflower Hikes in the New River Gorge

Spring has arrived and we are more than ready for sunny outdoor activities. Adventurers can kick-start their “spring spirit” with a lush wildflower hike in the New River Gorge. The newest national park in the United States, the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve encompasses over 72,000 acres of wide-open spaces. This special area is surrounded by spectacular natural landscapes that will take your breath away. 

Get To Know The Area

The Sandstone-Brooks Area is a perfect place to escape the crowds and find your own paradise within the national park. Within the Sandstone-Brooks area, a must-visit sight for any visitor is Sandstone Falls, the largest waterfall in the New River Gorge, spanning 1,500 feet across.

In this stunning area, there are 3 different trails to explore: Island Loop Trail, Gwinn Ridge Trail and Big Branch Trail, as well as a boardwalk and overlook view. These trails take on an extra layer of magic in the early spring when wildflowers start to bloom.

Meet The Wildflowers

You can find a variety of wildflowers along Big Branch Trail, including one of the first flowers to bloom each season—Spring Beauty. These beautiful flowers can range in color from soft pastel to a more vibrant purple hue. Keep your eyes peeled as you make your way down the trail.

Another wildflower you may find on your trek is Virginia Bluebells. These vibrant blooms can be found cascading across grassy hillsides throughout the state, and Big Branch Trail is a great spot to start your search.

A unique bloom with a unique name, Squirrel Corn is a wildflower to keep an eye out for. While a natural beauty, this white flower is poisonous to hikers and other wildlife alike! As always, be sure to keep your distance from wild plants and tread carefully as you explore nature’s bounty.

Yet another beautiful flower to be found along Big Branch Trail, Jack-in-the-Pulpit has a unique exotic look. Also known as Plant of the Peace, the bloom of this wild blossom is protected by a long, green “hood.”

Looking for a bit more color? Trout Lily is a vibrant yellow flower growing in abundance along Big Branch Trail. Can you guess why is this wildflower called “Trout” Lily? It is because the markings on its leaves are similar to the mottled markings found on brook and brown trout.

Plan Your Vibrant Adventure

Want a little guidance as you begin your wildflower hunt? Mark your calendar for the last weekend of April, when Spring Nature Fling will be celebrated in the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. This weekend will provide free guided hikes, led by the park’s expert rangers.

Wear comfortable shoes for guided walks and don’t forget to bring water/drinks and snacks! It may be helpful to bring binoculars, field guides and a camera to capture your precious memories.

Enjoy the spring weather and most importantly have fun wildflower hiking at New River Gorge National Park & Preserve!

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This post was last updated on April 5, 2022