Explore America’s 63rd national park on one of these top 10 day hikes in New River Gorge.
Established as America’s 63rd national park in 2021, the New River Gorge encompasses over 70,000 acres spread across the rural northernmost stretches of West Virginia. Known internationally as a whitewater rafting destination, the park also boasts over 1,600 established climbing routes. You can view many of these climbing routes on the iconic Endless Wall Trail – an excellent short hike along the cliffs of the same name. Depending on the season, the National Park Service says “you can often hear the voices of whitewater rafters as they experience the wild rapids of the lower New,” with many of the best hikes offering views towards the river. No matter what type of hiker you are, this guidebook showcases 10 of New River’s best hikes for any occasion.
As the sole centerpiece of the park, the New River Gorge Bridge is an engineering masterpiece that you absolutely cannot miss during your visit. Completed in the late 1970s, the structure is both the “longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the third highest in the United States,” according to the NPS. Photo-worthy views of the bridge are available on the Canyon Rim Boardwalk, the Bridge Trail, and the Long Point Trail, which offers impressive views from a nearby rock outcropping.
If you need a break from the summer heat, head over to Sandstone Falls, your new favorite swimming hole. The boardwalk on this short hike “passes through the Appalachian riverside flatrock community, which contains a rare assemblage of plants found in only a few places along several high-energy Appalachian rivers,” according to the NPS. The Glade Creek Trail also offers an abundance of summer swimming holes and protected fishing waters full of trout.
If an easy and relaxing walk with the family along the river sounds ideal, the Rend Trail is the perfect destination. The park considers it an excellent choice for all ages and abilities, "and a great start for beginning mountain bikers," as the trail is easy, wide, and smooth. It follows a former railroad bed built in the early 1900s “to haul coal from the mines in Minden to the main line tracks in Thurmond,” but was abandoned by miners in the 70s.
If the historic mining history piques your interest, add the Conveyor Trail and Kaymoor Miners Trail to the top of your hitlist. These short yet steep hikes explore the remnants of the ancient Kaymoor coal mine along the river and below the Endless Wall. Both are a relatively short drive from Fayetteville and are frequently noted as two of the best day hikes near town.
If you find yourself at Grandview, its namesake Grandview Rim Trail is the single must-do hike. The first half-mile of the hike includes interpretive signs and spectacular views down into the gorge, while wildlife such as deer, fox, bats, turkey, ravens, sighting are common in the area.
In contrast to many national parks, dogs are allowed on all trails in New River Gorge! The complete pet policy can be found here.