If I had a penny for every time I typed this into the search bar, I would have at least one dollar. If I were to invest that dollar toward any tank of gas to a location that had great trails, that trip would be to the New River Gorge and surrounding areas. Here’s why:
Words do pictures moderate justice, and as you can see from above, this view is worth a million words. In fact, The New River Gorge itself is estimated to be the third (some say second) oldest river in the entire world at around 320 million years. The Nile, Mississippi and Amazon are school children compared to the New River. Millions of years have gone into forming the valley it rests within and I recommend visiting so you can see for yourself just how awing these views can truly be.
Along with the Gorge, there are dozens if not hundreds of amazing scenic views you should consider while visiting the area. When you do, you might need to know how to get around, and when hiking knowing not only trail location is important but also type of terrain and length can help you decide how best to spend your time as to not choose something too challenging or not challenging enough. Here are some of our favorite trails of the Gorge and nearby.
Canyon Rim Boardwalk - .1 miles
162 Visitor Center Road, Lansing, WV 25862
First, we will start with a short jaunt with this 0.1 mile trail in length; but due to dozens of flights of stairs can be considered a challenge (unless you’re a firefighter). But once you reach your destination, you will have a close-up view of the gorge and the bridge. I took my family here in the spring of 2020 shortly after a light rain and we saw beautiful views of the gorge with steam rising as seen below. Just beautiful!
Patterson Trail – 2 miles
1194 Carnifex Ferry Road, Summersville, WV 26651
The Patterson trail might be my favorite trail I have taken. Patterson trail is tucked into Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. This was the site of the Battle of Carnifex Ferry in 1861, a pivotal moment for the Union who took victory over the Confederacy, driving them out of the state of West Virginia. You will spend most of the trail navigating the forest on a wide path, stumbling upon a view of the Gauley River at the Copperhead Overlook. With few hikers on the path that day, we had the Copperhead to ourselves and watched for near an hour as time seemed to stand still. This trail has some ups and downs but could be considered a moderate hike.
Long Point Trail – 1.5 miles
Newton Road, Fayetteville, WV 25840 (near Arrowhead Bike Farm)
Perhaps one of West Virginia’s most popular, if not the most popular view visitors seek in the state. This trail starts off easy, weaving in and out of shade. Throughout you receive sight of a vast beautiful forest and most likely several friendly hikers. Near the end the trail you are surrounded by rhododendron and rocky steps. At last, you stumble upon a breathtaking, endless view where you can see shadows of clouds rolling around on the treetops. The bridge feels so close and is perfect to grab a snapshot of your accomplishment with those accompanying you. For your safety, please be careful near cliffs at the end of the trail.
Summersville Lake Climbers Trail (Pirates Cove) – 2.4 miles
62 Farmhouse Lane, Summersville, WV 26651
So I will admit, this is a trail I have on my list next time we go for a hike, as we have not walked it yet. However, having boated on Summersville Lake, I know where this trail ends, and it has the feeling of finding a well-kept secret. A waterfall, beautiful cliffs, rocks and trees surround an oval shaped pool of crystal-clear water. The views were spectacular from my vantage point, so getting to look down upon it has to be just as rewarding. As any guide will tell you, I will tell you the same. DO NOT CLIFF DIVE INTO THIS WATER.
Salmon Run Trail – 1.9 miles
38.2406659 (North), -80.8570421 (West)
When walking along the Salmon Run Trail, you will find gorgeous views of the Summersville Lake. Along the way (and depending on the season) you may also find local flowers popping up in an array of colors. This is a moderate trail that will loop you back to the beginning. This is a great hike for leisurely walkers or beginners. Located right off Rt. 19, this is easily accessible, and the entrance is visible from the highway.
Skyline, Rocky Gauge Loop – 4.4 miles
486 Babcock Rd, Clifftop, WV 25831
An enjoyable mountainous drive down Rt. 19 from McFadden Ridge will take you to Babcock State Park. If you are familiar with JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit & Lord of the Ring (LOTR), then this trail could remind you of the peaceful Shire. There is an old mill next to a river with short waterfalls near. Picturesque, indeed. A little longer, so pack some water!
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some beautiful, mountainous states and hiked trails that end with wonderful views like Puget Sound in Washington, the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado as well as several trails in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. These are exceptional, scenic places, but to me the Mountain Mama West Virginia has some of the best trails that lead to the best views that I’ve experienced. I cannot underestimate how at peace I felt while looking out from Copperhead Overlook. I could have stayed there all day. I hope you get the chance for yourself to go see, and maybe you’ll feel the same or different, regardless you’ll find a new adventure!
PS- you can check out all trails to find a full list of area hiking trails.