These aren’t just empty tourist slogans for West Virginia; they accurately describe the Mountain State, which is full of seemingly endless forests, Class V whitewater rivers and world-class rock climbing. And all of these superlatives apply to one of the state’s single, signature destinations: the New River Gorge.
Though it’s now America’s newest national park, the New has long been a popular destination for paddlers and climbers, with 53 miles of the river within the park and thousands of established rock climbing routes. Plus the relatively new mountain biking scene is continually growing. But the New River Gorge is no slouch when it comes to hiking. More than 100 miles of trails take you through forests, to beautiful waterfalls and to scenic vistas. Here are a few standout trails to get you started.
1. Get a hikers-only view from Long Point
The Long Point Trail is the ultra-classic hike at the New. Coming in at 3.2 miles round-trip and relatively flat for West Virginia, it’s quite accessible to any reasonably fit person. Start at the trailhead parking on Newton Road and walk through a predominantly deciduous forest full of evergreen rhododendron bushes (come in June to see them flowering). The trail follows the ridgetop and gently descends to Long Point, a sandstone rock outcropping with a hikers-only view of the iconic New River Gorge Bridge. You are nearly 1,000 feet above the river, but you’re still close enough to hear the rushing whitewater and the whoops from the rafters below. Pack a lunch, because it’s worth hanging out at Long Point for a while. Be ready to step out of the way once you’ve scored the perfect selfie so others can do the same. For landscape photos, both sunrise and sunset are excellent here.
2. Find out why it’s called Endless Wall
The Endless Wall trail is named after the seemingly unending cliffline of sandstone that’s up to 100 feet tall. Following the rim of the gorge, this trail is also relatively flat with sections that provide excellent views of Endless Wall itself and the New River below. Start at the Fern Creek trailhead on Lansing-Edmond Road—the parking lot is small, so on weekends, plan to arrive early or later in the afternoon. Begin by walking through a forest of giant hemlock trees and then cross a footbridge over the rocky, rushing Fern Creek. At about Mile 1, arrive at Diamond Point, which provides the most unobstructed views of Endless Wall and the New River. Turn back here or continue the full length of trail for a 4.6-mile round-trip hike. While hiking, you’ll see marked climbing access trails. You can take these trails to ladders that will lead to the bottom of Endless Wall where you can explore further. Exercise caution at all times on this trail, as drop-offs are deadly. And never kick or throw anything—there are rock climbers directly below.