Big Branch Trail- Hiking

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About

Summary

One of the best-kept secrets of the New River Gorge, the strenuous Big Branch Trail rewards adventurous hikers with blooming wildflowers, countless waterfalls, and impressive views of the New River.

Written by

Neil Humphrey

Distance

2.0 miles

This trail is a 1.8 mile loop.

Destination Distance From Downtown

57.2 miles

Difficulty

4 of 5 diamonds

This loop trail is almost entirely uphill. Start left and you will walk along a creek bed with rocks of all shapes and sizes. Start right and climb up a staggering amount of switchbacks along a sharp ridge.

Time To Complete

1 hours

The loop will take about 45-60 minutes.

Seasonality

All Seasons

The left path of this trail follows through a creek lined with waterfalls and pools, and is the best in the late winter/spring when the water levels are higher. But, the winter is the best time to view the New River from the top of the trail, because there are no leaves on the trees.

Dog Friendly

No

While dogs are allowed, the trail isn’t safe for them. It is very narrow in several areas with many sheer drop-offs.

Fees Permits

No

Land Website

Big Branch Trail

Review

Intro

Depending on how you attack this hike, your climb and descent will be strenuous, even technical, along Big Branch Creek. But, it’s worth the effort to experience the great views of the New River and the community of Hinton from the top of the ridge.

The Big Branch Trail is one of the best-kept secrets of the New River Gorge. The trailhead begins just across from a parking area reserved for views of Brooks Falls, a class III rapid on the New River. Don’t let the fact that the trail doesn’t look like anything special from the trailhead, stop you from hiking it. Once on the trail, you can’t help but love pointing out the countless waterfalls and pools on Big Branch Creek, seeing the remains of the farmstead, and taking in the spectacular views of the New River hundreds of feet below. But, don’t think you won’t have to work a little for the reward. This 1.8-mile loop trail is a challenge—steep, rocky terrain along ridgelines and creeks will keep experienced hikers on their toes.

What Makes It Great

Hikers come back again and again to the challenging Big Branch Trail mainly because of the views. If you decide to keep left when the trail splits, you will follow the tranquil Big Branch Creek for close to 1 mile. There are too many waterfalls to count along the stream, and this trail will take you past every single one as you cross over the creek 5 times. Once you reach the top of the ridge, you will see an old farmstead that nature has reclaimed.

When you pass the farm your vigorous climb is over, and the terrain will level out until you head back down. At the top of the ridge, you will have spectacular views of the New River, and can even see the historic town of Hinton in the distance. When you gaze across the river to the surrounding mountaintops, it feels like you are walking among the clouds.

Who is Going to Love It

Experienced hikers who love waterfalls and striking scenic views will love this trail. The best views are at the crest of the trail, where you can get a glimpse of the New River rushing hundreds of feet below. There are several stream crossings, mostly on river rocks, but there is a moss-covered bridge at one point as well. Hiking this trail involves an intimidating climb up a rocky creek bed right at the trailhead. It’s a good challenge for experienced hikers, but others might find it strenuous.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

To reach the Big Branch Trail, take exit 139 on I-64 and turn left once you exit the ramp. Continue straight until you pass through the town of Hinton. Once you cross the bridge that spans the New River leaving Hinton, turn right. The road will change from a 2-lane road into a smaller, unlined road. Continue for 4 miles until you come to the parking area on your right at Brooks Falls Roadside Park. The trailhead is across the road on your left.

Location

Brooks Falls Roadside Park

New River Road
Hinton, WV, 25951
37.73085, -80.908106

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