by Lisa Strader
This year, Visit Southern West Virginia embarked on a trails campaign to promote the awesome hiking and biking trails in our region. The campaign inspired me, and my co-workers Maura and Becky, to get out and experience the wilderness we have in our backyard (literally).
We decided to start in the New River Gorge National River. This national park encompasses 70,000 acres and gives us miles and miles of trails to explore. Trails range from ¼ mile to 7 miles in length, from leisurely strolls to invigorating hikes.
The trail conditions in the Gorge are consistent, well-packed paths, rolling through the mountain terrain. On occasion, you will come across a root, rock or passing mountain biker to keep you on your toes.
On our first hike, we went big with an 8-mile, round-trip hike to Long Point.
The Long Point Trail is actually a nice easy-to-moderate 1.6-mile hike (3.2 round trip) to one of the best views of the New River Gorge, overlooking the iconic bridge that spans one of the oldest rivers in the world.
Sitting on the rock cropping that juts out over the gorge, I heard Becky say “Wow, we get to live here.”
To me that says it all.
Kaymoor Miners Trail
This has to be one of the best hikes for those interested in scenery and history. Our outing to the Kaymoor Miners Trail was quite the adventure.
Starting out with a beautiful drive underneath the New River Gorge Bridge, we ventured to the Wolf Creek Trailhead. There are other ways to get to the Kaymoor Miners Trail, but this one is my personal favorite.
The waterfalls, river crossing and views of the gorge are amazing, and once you get onto the Kaymoor Trail you start seeing relics of the Kaymoor Mine, which was one of the largest and most productive coal operations in the Gorge.
After a 2-mile hike that included a copperhead sighting and a short but heavy rain shower, we reached our destination: The Kaymoor Miners Trail Stairs. There are well over 800 steps down, which of course means more than 800 steps back to the top. The reward at the bottom are the relics still standing from the coal boom, including a coal processing plant, coke ovens and the remains of what was once a town.
The reward at the top? It’s knowing you survived climbing over 800 steps! A couple we passed on the steps called it the “WV stairmaster to beat all stairmasters!”
This is such a small sampling of the hiking trails in Southern WV. From the gorge to our incredible state parks, the views and the terrain make this an optimum place to visit for those seeking a hiking adventure.
In addition to the the New River Gorge National River, southern West Virginia also shares a portion of the Allegheny and Appalachian Trails, as well as the Greenbrier River Trail that stretches 77 miles.
The girls and I have just started on our hiking adventures, but we are looking forward to finding new trails and seeing more of Almost Heaven, West Virginia!