Favorite Fall Hikes in Southern West VirginiaSeptember 2, 2022
Southern West Virginia is a wonderful sight to see at any time of the year, but if you’re looking to see our area in all of its natural beauty, autumn really can’t be beat. Here are some of our favorite fall hikes to give you the best perspective.
Raleigh County – Grandview
The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve – Grandview in Raleigh County is known to have some of the best views in the state. With six miles of hiking trails that lead to breathtaking panoramas, there are plenty of leaf-peeping opportunities. The Grandview Rim Trail is the park’s longest route at 3.5 miles. It begins at the Main Overlook — 1,400 feet above the New River — and goes through the forest at the rim of the Gorge before ending at Turkey Spur Overlook. Castle Rock is a more strenuous hike (not recommended for small children), but you’ll be able to see layered sandstone walls up-close and exposed coal seams. Other paths in Grandview include Big Buck Trail, Woodland Loop Trail, Tunnel Trail, Little Laurel Trail, and Grandview Walkways.
Fayette – Endless Wall
Named the Best National Park Hike in USA Today’s Best Readers’ Choice contest in 2015, Fayette County’s Endless Wall Trail is one of the most popular treks in Southern West Virginia. The 2.4-mile trail offers remarkable views of the New River Gorge Bridge and surrounding vistas — which look even more beautiful painted with fall colors. Diamond Point is a lovely spot to stop and admire the surrounding scenery. Also, being in the Gorge, there’s a good chance that during your hike you’ll hear the sounds of adventurous rafters or catch a glimpse of rock climbers.
Nicholas – Long Point (Summersville Lake)
While it bears the same name as a popular trail in the New River Gorge, this Long Point Trail is at Summersville Lake in Nicholas County, and you’ll be reminded of that fact when you get to the sandstone cliff at the end of it and see the horizon over the water. The trail, wide and well-marked, is about 4 miles round-trip. Hear the crunch of the leaves as you journey through an Appalachian hardwood forest. Something special to note: during the fall and winter seasons, Summersville Lake’s water level is lowered, exposing more of the sandstone cliffs.
Greenbrier – Greenbrier River Trail
The Greenbrier River Trail in Greenbrier County is a mostly flat, 78-mile former railroad track that is the only rail trail of its kind in West Virginia. With several small towns to explore, 35 bridges to cross, and two tunnels to pass through over the course of the trail, it is an ideal autumn adventure. It is suitable for most ages and endurance levels, so the whole family can enjoy the outing. There are also campsites along the way if you decide to stay overnight. The trail offers a glimpse of some of the most remote areas of the state, including part of the National Radio Quiet Zone where the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope/National Radio Astronomy Observatory is located.
Summers – Bluestone State Park
Bluestone State Park has seven trails within its borders — Big Pine; Cabin; Boundary; Giles, Fayette, Kanawha Turnpike; Riverview; Overlook, and Rhododendron — all offering their own sights and sounds. There is also the Bluestone Turnpike Trail, which runs from Bluestone State Park to Pipestem Resort State Park along the riverbank. It is 9.5 miles and is considered a moderate hike. The path takes you through a forested area with numerous plants and wildlife.
Monroe – Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory
If you want to see lots of Northern birds flying south for the winter along with a dazzling array of fall colors, Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory in Monroe County is the place to visit. Located on Peters Mountain, it can only be reached by taking a 1.2-mile hike from the nearest road access. The observatory itself is an old fire tower and stands 3,800 feet in elevation, allowing for an elevated view of the surrounding vistas.
Wyoming – Twin Falls Resort State Park
From a gentle walk through the woods to a more challenging hike over steep slopes, Wyoming County’s Twin Falls Resort State Park has 13 trails of varying distances and difficulty that take you through a number of scenic surroundings. See waterfalls, old farm structures, and lots of plant life and animals in their natural habitats as you explore. The changing of the seasons only adds more uniqueness to the paths.
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