July 21, 2020
About New River Gorge Hiking
Whether you want an intense hike, a relaxing stroll through the woods, or something in between, The New River Gorge has hiking opportunities for everybody. Explore some new trails, or repeat one that you’ve traveled in the past, either way, the New River Gorge is for hiking.
For the best vantage point of the New River Gorge Bridge, check out the Long Point Trail. This moderate trail is mostly flat, with some rolling hills and a short steep section at the end. Long Point Trail clocks in at just over 3 miles (out and back), making it a great option for most people, including families with adventurous kiddos. The view is worth the journey-with an impressive view of the New River Gorge Bridge and the Wolf Creek drainage. In the springtime, or after a heavy rain, you may be able to spot the Fern Creek Waterfall across the river. The trail connects to several others within the Fayetteville Trails System, so you could add more to your day and continue onto other trails, exploring other parts of the Gorge. Or, make the out and back adventure to an incredible view of the world-famous New River Gorge Bridge.
Minutes into this iconic New River Gorge Hike, and you’ll know why the Endless Wall Trail was voted the best hike in the nation among National Parks. Located in nearby Fayetteville, the moderate hike begins in a hemlock forest that appears to be pulled straight out of the pages of your favorite childhood fairytale. The trail continues through the forest, into thickets of rhododendron, and over Fern Creek, before meandering along the edge of the trail’s namesake, The Endless Wall. Views of The Wall and The New River are present along this stretch of the trail, and the voices of whitewater rafters often echo through the gorge, providing the illusion that they are much closer than they really are. Below, climbers from around the world can often be found scaling the vertical sandstone walls. Many hikers choose to retrace their steps after reaching the Diamond Point overlook, making the hike 2 miles total.
Not so long ago, coal was king in the New River Gorge. Dozens of mining companies operated in the New River Gorge at the turn of the century, before fizzling out years later. Today, all that remains from the days of mining in the Gorge are the stories passed on and remnants of the mining towns, like Kaymoor. The Kaymoor Miners Trail is a strenuous and steep hike that descends into the New River Gorge. While the trail is only a mile long, it makes the most out of its short distance. The first .5 mile includes steep switchbacks, before ending at the mining site, where you can head back up, or choose to continue down 821 stairs. Yep, 821 stairs. That’s a lot, we know. But the journey into the Gorge along the steps also includes a journey through part of The New River Gorge’s rich history. Along the way, you’ll see the remnants of coke ovens, Kaymoor’s coal processing plant, and the site of the former town. Back at the top of the trail, you can connect to the Butcher’s Branch Trail, which you can use to connect to the Long Point Trail so see all of the Gorge.
On the North Side of the river, and after a curvy drive on West Virginia mountain roads, visitors can explore Nuttallburg, the best example of what a West Virginia coal town in the New River Gorge was like. The conveyor structure where coal traveled from the mines into train cars is still standing, and is an impressive reminder of the marvels of engineering during the early 1900s. Walk in the footsteps of miners and their families and see the former foundations of important buildings to a mining town, like the company store, schoolhouses, and churches. A row of coke ovens offers visitors a look inside coal processing. For a more strenuous hike at Nuttallburg, hikers can visit the conveyor trail, a steep and winding trail up The Gorge, where you can see more of the conveyor as well as views of the New River Gorge. Mining debris still remain on parts of the trail, these artifacts have been left where they sit as a reminder of the days of mining in the New River Gorge.