Pipestem Resort State Park labels itself as the “Year-Round Crown Jewel of the West Virginia Park System” and can definitely back up that claim. It has 16 trails that total almost 19 miles, and almost all of them are great for hiking. The massive park has diverse terrain, giving you the chance to hike through lowland marshes, atop mountain ridges, and alongside water. Whatever type of trail you are looking for, odds are you will find it at Pipestem.
What Makes It Great
Locals love the park’s variety of trails and terrain, as well as the wildlife spotting. The 1.2-mile Den Tree Trail is a narrow, rocky trail that follows a trickling stream across marshy bottomland. Nature lovers will enjoy the arboretum full of old and rare trees at the end of this trail. Take the River Trail, which is the park’s longest at 5.25 miles, for a challenging descent that will put you just inches from the rushing Bluestone River, one of the most pristine rivers in the state.
The 4.6-mile Lake Shore trail is great if you are looking for scenic views of the Long Branch Lake. Hike through gentle switchbacks covered with patches of moderate exposed roots and rocks to find stunning lake views. Thick groves of pines grow along much of this trail, providing ample shade. To take in a bird’s-eye view of the lake atop a ridge, take the short but steep rutted-out Lake View trail that will be on your left at the intersection of the 2 trails. To explore the lake’s boggy shores, go right at the same intersection and slog through the mud and thickets of cattails. When you hike at Pipestem, keep an eye out for the countless deer and turkey that make this park their home.
Who is Going to Love It
People who love pristine lake views, spotting wildlife, and hiking through different types of scenery will have fun at Pipestem. The wide paths and rolling terrain make it accessible to all levels of hikers. Multiple trails offer picturesque views of the lake, the Bluestone River, and even the surrounding peaks.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To reach Pipestem Resort State Park, take Exit 14 on I-77. When exiting the ramp, follow the arrow for the town of Athens. Continue straight for 14 miles until you come upon the large, triangular stone column that marks the entrance to the park on your left. There is plenty of parking at various trailheads.