Waterfall Watching In Southern West VirginiaAugust 3, 2009
5 Must-See Cascades In the Mountain State
One thing about people: we’re attracted to water. Something about vacations lead us to lakes, rivers, and oceans. Ski vacations? Yep. Frozen water. We can’t get enough of the stuff.
And we love to watch it fall. Give people a Sunday drive and a picnic next to a waterfall, and it’s like you’ve set the stage to solve the world’s problems. At least for an hour or so.
Here are some of our favorites…
Stretching across the New River just below the town of Hinton, Sandstone Falls is an impressive piece of waterfall-ery. On the far left side of the river, there’s a nice, uniform break. On the right side, the river gets squeezed and channeled into a torrent of exploding, frothy whitewater. It’s inside the New River Gorge National Park so the boardwalks and viewing area here are well maintained. Don’t miss it.
Nestled up inside Twin Falls Resort State Park are the beautiful Marsh Fork Falls and Black Fork Falls that the resort is named for. These are easy to find (take the Falls Trail) and well worth the stop. The first set of falls, Marsh Fork, is only 1/10 of a mile from the trailhead, with the Black Fork coming in about ½ mile later. If they named the whole place after these waterfalls, that means they’re something to see.
If you drive through Glen Ferris, you cannot miss the great Kanawha Falls. Just glance over at where it looks like the entire river broke in half. Kanawha Falls is a series of ledges, and it’s easy to see where the river had been dammed up. Stretching from one side of the river to the other, Kanawha Falls is the very first feature of the river, still visible from where the New and the Gauley make their confluence. Just a short distance from Kanawha Falls is Cathedral Falls – another can’t miss!
Glade Creek Falls
Just outside of Beckley and still within the New River Gorge National Park, you’ll find Glade Creek Falls. The big falls are at the bottom of the creek just upstream from where the creek meets the river. This is an impressive drop to see when you’re looking at the creek with a lot of water in it. When the water is low, this is great for swimming, with a big jump into the pool below for the adventurous.
The world famous Sweet’s Falls on West Virginia’s mighty Gauley River is only available for viewing one way: going over it. Rafters have had a love affair with Sweets Falls for nearly 40 years, and there is nothing- repeat: NOTHING- like running the falls during Gauley Season in autumn. The big bonus is that, once you go over, you get to turn around and watch others test their luck on the same drop. Part fun, part coliseum, at Sweet’s Falls, rafters prove the old rule of thumb, “Sometimes you watch the show, and sometimes you are the show.”
Okay, there’s our five. Which ones did we miss? Please, share your favorites with us- one of the great things about the Mountain State is that there’s so much falling water around.