Cathedral Falls

September 20, 2012

About a mile east of Gauley Bridge you’ll find Cane Branch, a small tributary of the New River. Here, it makes a dramatic final plunge out of the mountains on its way to the river. This is Cathedral Falls and it is one of the most scenic and easy to access waterfalls in southern West Virginia.

Beautiful Fall Photo of Cathedral Falls by Randall Sanger Photography

What is Cathedral Falls?

Cathedral Falls is a beautiful 60+ foot waterfall on Cane Branch. It cascades down a narrow canyon and lands right beside US Rt 60. This creek begins on Gauley Mountain and makes a short but exciting trip to the New River. It actually drops nearly 100 feet over a series of Upper Nuttall sandstone ledges, but the final 60 feet of drops are the ones you can see from the roadside park.

Where is it?

Cathedral Falls is located just off of US Rt. 60 about a mile east of the town of Gauley Bridge. This is the Scenic Byway that travels from Charleston to the West Virginia state line east of White Sulphur Springs.

The trip is approximately 40 minutes from Charleston going east on Rt. 60 or 20 minutes from Ansted going west on Rt 60. If you are coming from Fayetteville, take Rt. 16 west to route 60. This trip will take about 20 minutes. For the technology junkies who love to use GPS, the coordinates for Cathedral Falls are 38.15444N by 81.1788W.

Why You Should Go

There’s a magic quality to water, whether it’s sitting motionless or flowing through a stream. Cathedral Falls is a special place to visit if you’re traveling around southern West Virginia. The sounds of the water falling over the rocks can help you reconnect with nature and forget about your worries for awhile.

And Cathedral Falls is also a wonderful spot for photographs. Tucked away in its own little canyon, you’ll have a hard time taking a bad picture here. You can go to Cathedral Falls many times and your photos will always be different. The water flow changes all the time.

And be sure to pack a picnic lunch; there’s no prettier spot to enjoy a meal. The roadside park has a couple of tables, and with a little exploring you can see more of the falls than just what you can view from the road.

No matter why you go, just remember to take time to enjoy the beauty that is southern West Virginia.


  • I grew up just outside of Gauley Bridge and can say that Cathedral Falls is still one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state! The roadside park is also good for a short hike or to hunt fossils!

    • We agree – it is a beautiful waterfall and ever changing. Winter when it’s surrounded in ice, fall with the colors all around, spring when water is usually in abundance and of course now summer – so pretty!

  • Very nice waterfall and a fun place to take a break while out riding. But watch Gaully Bridge it is the biggest speed trap in the state. Wouldn’t spend two cents in that town till they fix the speed trap

    • It is a beautiful waterfall and a great place for a break riding or driving! Gauley Bridge is an area where you do have to watch your speed!

    • Hi Cassandra – We spoke to the Town of Gauley Bridge and they said it is actually a public park so there is no rental fee, or permission that you have to seek out however if you want to block it off to prepare for the wedding they will be glad to help if you call and let them know when you plan to marry. The number is 304-632-2505.

      Congrats and would love to see the photos after your wedding!

    • The closest campground is the New River Campground located in Gauley Bridge. It’s right along the river and also right along Route 60. The next closest campgrounds would either be Babcock State Park or if you ventured up toward the Fayetteville area there are a few to choose from including Chestnut Creek Campground or Rifrafters Campground – or towards Summersville there is Battle Run Campgrounds and Summersville Lake Retreat. If you need phone numbers or have questions call us at 800-847-4898.

    • No to actually view the falls all you need to do it pull into the parking lot. There is a small bridge you can walk across to get a little closer and get a better view but unless you choose to hike up closer – there is no hiking involved to see Cathedral Falls.

    • I think the closest hotels to the falls would be the Glen Ferris Inn, Glen Ferris, WV, Hawks Nest Lodge (at Hawks Nest State Park) in Ansted, WV or a hotel in Charleston, WV. If you are traveling for other recreation I would be happy to tell you what are would be near here as well as near what other activities you are looking for.

  • Are there other waterfalls nearby? I’m planning a trip up soon, and want to see all I can for the drive time from East TN.

    • Hi Raymond,

      Right down the road from Cathedral Falls is Kanawha Falls (Glen Ferris). Also if you are traveling into the New River Gorge there are waterfalls to hike to, there are also wonderful ones at Camp Creek State Park and Sandstone Falls in Hinton. Let me know which area you will be traveling in/through and we can try and get you to a few great ones!

  • I was just to both this falls and the rather famous falls accompanying the Glade Creek Grist Mill. As of one week ago, both falls were disappointing, no doubt due to the extended dry weather, and there was almost total dryness of Cathedral Falls. I wish someone would set up webcams on these so we could plan accordingly. I would have skipped the trip this time for sure.

    • Hi Jon, Yes the waterfalls tend to be a little dryer toward late summer (August is typically the hottest, driest month). I hate that you were disappointed. Spring is probably the best time to catch the waterfalls at their best – but again our early summer was rainy. Next time you’re passing through give us a call at 800-847-4898 and we will be happy to give you information on the conditions to the best of our knowledge. Babcock State Park does have a webcam – it focuses on the Grist Mill but you can see the rocks in the water and try to gauge from that as well.

  • Thanks, Lisa. I may just do that (give you guys a call). I actually am planning another trip soon, but more for foliage photography than anything else. The trip may or may not lead me into parts of WV. One thing I really wish I could track down was a rather large, white church at the base of a mountain. I’ve seen similar pictures in calendars and I bet it’s going to be a very pretty seen when the leaves change. I could have saved the coordinates on my GPS, but didn’t think about it. I know it wasn’t along I-81, but it must have been along one of the highways off of 81 heading W. I came from the Phila, PA area. Any ideas would be welcome!

    • I hope you do get the chance to make it back to WV! The leaves are taking their sweet time changing this year but hoping for a beautiful fall. When I thought about churches – I thought of Leiane Gibson – a photographer who is nice enough to let us share her work. I’ve attached a couple images but you can follow her and see her photos for yourself – she has quite a few beautiful white churches posted.

    • Hi Susie = There is a small walkway that brings you closer to the falls – there is also a little picnic area there as well.

      Hope that helps!

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