Spring Hiking and WildflowersMay 12, 2020
Head outdoors this spring to experience the almost heaven views (and scents) of southern West Virginia. From moderate walks through the scenic New River Gorge to challenging hikes to find the very best wildflowers in the region, we have options for everyone!
While hiking is a great way to connect with nature while staying physically and socially distant from others during this time, we have a few tips on how to safely explore the trails.
- Stay regional when choosing a trail to hike
- Leave no trace to protect the natural beauty of the trails
- Continue to practice social distancing while outdoors
- If you are sick, stay home
- Visit less popular trails and avoid times of high use
Here are a few of our favorite lightly-trafficked hiking trails throughout southern West Virginia.
Little Laurel Trail – Raleigh County
Little Laurel Trail at Grandview is a popular area for wildflowers during spring and summer. This steep path connects Grandview with the New River 1,400 feet below. On your descent down the mountain, you’ll pass an old coal mine site. The change in elevation also provides an opportunity to view a great assortment of southern West Virginia wildflowers.
Try to find the bursts of color ranging from the yellow trout lilies to the dainty, pink-striped spring beauties as you explore Little Laurel Trail. While you are at Grandview, stop and admire the blooming West Virginia state flower, the rhododendron! This popular flower is a flowering shrub with purple, pink and white blooms.
Cliffside Trail – Fayette County
Not only does Ansted’s Cliffside Trail offer scenic views of the gorge and the New River, but in the springtime, you can find beautiful wildflowers along Turkey Creek near the beginning of the trail. This moderate 1.8-mile looped trek, located at Hawks Nest State Park, is lightly-trafficked and is home to many unique rock formations.
Right before you reach the spectacular stretch of cliffs on this hike, enjoy the sight of plentiful West Virginia wildflowers like the large, ornate pink lady’s slipper from the orchid family, and the bright shrub from the rhododendron family — the flame azalea.
Salmon Run Trail – Nicholas County
Salmon Run Trail in Summersville is a lightly traveled, 1.9-mile loop that offers sweeping glimpses of Summersville Lake. This trail passes through fields and forest areas, as well as unique old homesteads, an old cemetery, a wooden bridge and a rock wall, all before ending at the well-known waters.
During your excursion, discover West Virginia wildflowers like endless varieties of lilies — including the deep yellow trout lily and the freckled fiery orange tiger lily — as well as the heart-shaped dutchman’s breeches spotted along the fields.
Big Branch Trail – Summers County
Summers County’s Big Branch Trail is a hot spot for spring wildflowers. One of the best-kept secrets of the New River Gorge trail system, this strenuous trail repays hikers with blooming flora and scenic views. The trailhead, located on the River Road to Sandstone Falls, can be found opposite Brooks Falls near Hinton. Enjoy the experience as you cross and follow a stream, pass several nice waterfalls and climb moderately through the flourishing forest.
Along the stream, you can find coltsfoot and purple trilliums. Continue your hike toward the abandoned farm homestead to see a beautiful garden of Virginia bluebells. This two-mile loop has many different species of wildflowers like spring beauties, trout lilies, toothwort and bloodroot.
Flush with color, our floral landscapes showcase the beauty of spring. Enjoy a breath of fresh air while wandering in Southern West Virginia this season.