7 most majestic mountain waterfalls in WV
There is something magical about a waterfall– the fluidity of water flowing over the solidity of rock seems a perfect balance for nature’s process. Because West Virginia is both very wet and very mountainous, we have more than our share of beautiful waterfalls.
Some are right off the road, others hidden in the backcountry; some are river-spanning cascades, and others narrow creeks plunging over cliffs. They are all spectacular.
Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Elakala Falls
Located in the popular Blackwater Falls State Park in the northern part of the state, Elakala’s series of 4 plunges is a bit more “off the beaten path” than the park’s namesake, but those who make the trek to them– especially the lowest 2– will not be disappointed.
Elakala’s upper 2 falls can be reached by most hikers, and a bridge over their gorge offers easy access. However, the descent into the 200-foot gorge to see the lowest of the falls is rocky and considered dangerous for less experienced hikers. If you’re a pro, though, you may be able to earn a glimpse of these secluded falls’ rarely seen beauty.
2. Sandstone Falls
The New River makes its transition from flatlands into a gorge in a dramatic fashion– a wide, cascading series of river-wide falls that drop around 20 feet. Visitors can take a scenic drive along the New River from Hinton to Sandstone, and take in the beautiful views of the falls and the river. If it’s good weather, you can catch some rays on the sandstone rocks, or jump in the river for a refreshing dip.
3. Kanawha Falls
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.
4. Cathedral Falls
Though it’s just a short drive upstream from Kanawha Falls, Cathedral Falls could not be more different from Kanawha’s wide-open nature. Formed by a small tributary to the New River that plunges over sandstone and shale cliffs, these falls most definitely evoke their Gothic namesake. Delicate rivulets trickle down the rock, just begging you to set your camera’s exposure speed to the slowest setting. Easily accessible from the road, you will have little excuse not to pull over for a quick view.
5. Blackwater Falls
No list of Mountain State waterfalls is complete without mentioning the Blackwater Falls, which is in the same park as Elakala Falls. At a roaring 62 feet, these amber-colored falls are certainly some most beautiful in the state. 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. For added scenic beauty, consider checking the falls out in the winter, when they often freeze completely.
6. Twin Falls Resort Park
At this private resort, you can get 2 waterfalls for the price of 1! Both Black Fork and Marsh Fork falls plunge into inviting pools, and hide alcoves behind their watery curtains. However, they can dry up in the later summer months, so make sure you visit the park, which is just 30 miles south of Beckley, during the wet spring months.
7. 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!
Which West Virginia waterfall is your favorite?
This post was last updated on April 2, 2019