The New River Gorge region in Southern West Virginia is an outdoor recreation mecca, with whitewater rafting, fishing, rock climbing, and yes, plenty of trails for hiking or running. Covering more than 70,000 acres along the New River, the National Park has 6 different areas with a variety of trails. While most trails range from just .25-mile to 7 miles, you can several up for more mileage. The best part is that just about any trail you choose will have gorgeous views of the New River Gorge and beyond.
What Makes It Great
There are so many great options for trail running in the New River Gorge. After all, what would you expect from a National Park of more than 70,000 acres? Trails range from flat and easy to steep and challenging, and several lead to overlooks with breathtaking views of the gorge. The NRG website lists 6 different areas of trails to choose from, depending on where in the park you are visiting, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
A nice trail to start with is the Endless Wall Loop Trail. USA Today named it the single best National Park day hike in America in 2015, so it’s pretty popular. At only about 4.8 miles round trip, the trail goes through lush forest and then follows along the cliff edge, which gives you several great viewpoints.
Another highly recommended trail is the 1.6-mile Long Point Trail. One advantages of Long Point compared to neighboring trails is that the elevation changes very little, so you can to maintain a steady pace without dealing with vertical descents or switchbacks. At the beginning of the trail, wooden trestles span over swampy woodlands before it transitions into tunnels of evergreens and rhododendrons. In the last .5-mile, after a few easy-to-navigate rock steps, you will get a gorgeous view of the New River Gorge from almost 900 feet above the river.
If you are looking for something longer and more challenging, the Kaymoor Trail in the Fayetteville area is for you. This moderate 8.6-mile trail heads right through the forest in the middle of the gorge and by the old Kaymoor mining site. You can also reach the mining site by heading down the switchbacks and steps on the 1-mile strenuous Kaymoor Miners Trail. After passing the mining site, the trail intersects a couple of others that you can hop on for more mileage.
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, though, head to the Grandview Area, which has 6 miles of trails that show off some of the best views of the gorge. Most of the trails here are shorter than a mile, and the Grandview Rim Trail is the longest at 3.2 miles round trip. The Grandview Rim Trail has some steep sections, but the views make the effort worthwhile. This is also the best area to see wildlife like deer, fox, bats, skinks, box turtles, wild turkey, raptors, a variety of songbirds, and ravens.
Who is Going to Love It
There are trails at the NRG for beginners, photographers, families, and experts, and everyone is sure to love the views! With such a variety of trails and areas, you can come for a serious workout or a leisurely jog. Plan for enough time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and be sure to pack a camera and water, because summer days can get very humid.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
A good place to start is the Canyon Rim Visitor Center at 162 Visitor Center Road in Lansing, WV. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can get any and all information about the trails and trailheads from here.