A wide variety of difficulty and wildly varying terrain are highlights on this collection of state park trails. Choose a short loop or a long one. Stay close to facilities or wander into the deep into the woods. Either way, Babcock State Park will keep it interesting and show you view after view after view.
What Makes It Great
For hikers who want a variety of terrains and views in a single jaunt, it’s tough to beat Babcock State Park. Spend a full day here and you’ll cross dozens of creeks, tread a swinging bridge or 2, scale some rock faces, and enjoy vistas aplenty as you weave your way through history-rich forest.
For quick hikes, the most bang for your buck comes from a couple perennial local favorites. It’s tough to go wrong with the trail Island in the Sky—don’t miss it. Or for a more adventurous little journey, find the Narrow Gauge Trail, which will have you scrambling over rocks, ducking through dense foliage, and crossing creeks in no time flat.
To spend more time in the outback, so to speak, don’t miss the Mann’s Creek Gorge Trail, which winds its way through wilderness and connects the main areas of Babcock with Camp Washington Carver. This trail feels every bit as remote as it is, so make sure you’re prepared.
Now for the real adventurers. Pound for pound and mile for mile, the 2 gems of Babcock are the Wilderness Trail and the Narrow Gauge to Mann’s Creek link up. The latter is long and strenuous and makes for a proud day of traipsing about in the woods.
Confused by all the options? You’re not alone, but don’t worry. Trail maps are free at the Park Headquarters. Stop by there first for a map and for the obligatory picture of the Grist Mill, the second most photographed landmark in West Virginia behind the New River Gorge Bridge.
Who is Going to Love It
Babcock works best for intermediate to advanced hikers who like a little adventure. If you enjoy trails that can be a bit tricky to follow and may take some exploring to find, then don’t miss this hidden gem of southern West Virginia. It often gets overlooked in favor of its National Park neighbor, the New River Gorge.
At Babcock, you will enjoy the best views and get further back into the wilderness. And it does have a selection of easier trails as well, but they’re mostly close in to the park’s facilities and not very wilderness-y.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Babcock is a West Virginia State Park, so all state park regulations apply. There are no entrance fees. Though it’s possible to access the Mann’s Creek Trail from Babcock’s satellite location Camp Washington Carver, first-time visitors should definitely run by Park Headquarters for info. From Route 19, exit at Route 60/Midland Trail, about 5 miles North of the New River Gorge Bridge. At the end of the ramp, turn East. Follow 60 eastward, until it hooks up with Route 41 South. Another few miles will bring you to the park’s main entrance on the right.