In October of 2019, my friends and I embarked on a road trip from Indianapolis to the New River Gorge National River in West Virginia. We visited the Canyon Rim visitor center as a first thing where rangers helped us in planning the day hike that can give a panoramic view of the Gorge and bridge. They handed over the map and marked it with the suggested trails.
Note: Canyon Rim Visitor Center remains open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm year-round.
The Kaymoor Miner’s Trail
- Start: Kaymoor Parking lot, Kaymoor Road, Fayetteville
- Length: 1.0 miles, strenuous
- Offers: Views of the old mine town and a closer view of the gorge
This trail descends steeply with 821 stairs and switchbacks to the Kaymoor coal mine site, where it crosses the Kaymoor Trail. We traversed around 300 stairs and were able to catch the good glimpse of the New river gorge bridge.
However, if you are planning on going down further, a view of the gorge is located 0.2 miles down the trail off to the right before the stairs. At the mine site, you can explore the remains of the coal processing plant, coke ovens, and the coal mining history.
A word of prudence, this trail is strenuous and will take a lot of strength to climb up those stairs back to the parking lot.
Endless Wall Trail
- Start: near the west trailhead off Lansing-Edmond Rd
- Length: 2.2 miles, 1.5 hours
- Offers: views of the gorge from up high
The start of the trail was clearly marked. As we entered, we got quickly plunged into the forest surrounded by rhododendron and evergreen trees.
At Fern Creek, we crossed the small metal bridge and tackled a short rocky incline before the trail leveled out again. Upon reaching the top of the grade, I saw a sign marking the Fern Point Overlook. We took this side trail and was stunned by the fine view of the New River Gorge.
The next viewpoint was the diamond point at about 0.3 miles from Fern Point. As I stepped out onto the rocky ledge overlooking the gorge, I gasped! The setting looked so unreal with a mightly river gushing amidst the green-carpeted mountains and a rail track running in parallel to the river. I could just utter “West Virginia is beautiful!!”
In Short, it was a great place to sit and admire the work of the mightly New river as well as a manmade marvel in the form of a New River Gorge bridge.
Diamond Point offers a sweeping, almost 270-degree panorama, of the New River Gorge Bridge. The brim of the canyon offers the best photography opportunities but be extremely cautious as there is no slightest hint of a guardrail.
P.S. It was rated #1 National Park Trail in the United States Today’s Best Readers’ Choice contest in 2015
Long point Trail head
- Start: Gatewood Road about 2 miles from downtown Fayetteville
- Length: 3.2 miles, 2 – 2.5 hours
- Offers: Best Views of the New River Gorge Bridge
The trail started off pretty flat heading away from the parking lot and remained fairly level for the first mile with only a few short ups and downs. After then, we went through a forest that was a mix of Hemlock, pine, and deciduous trees under a shady canopy for most of its length.
Most of this trail was fairly leveled, but near the end, there was a small rocky and steep section. As we climbed the last little ridge and emerge from the trees, we saw the panoramic view of the New River Gorge Bridge.
A deep maroon steel structure spanned across the massive gorge is truly a manmade marvel and a sight to behold. According to the official National Park Service website, the bridge was such a picturesque sight that in 2005 the US Mint printed an image of it on the state quarter representing West Virginia!
Charles C Roger Memorial Bridge
On our way back to Indianapolis, we took a brief halt near Charles C Roger Bridge. People claim that this Bridge looks absolutely stunning during the Fall time. Although, We couldn’t see that version of the bridge but nevertheless, it was beautiful.
Midland Trail National Scenic Byway
We haven’t planned for this scenic byway but fortunately, on our way back, google map showed us this way. As a result, we got a chance to drove along the Kanawha River and New River on Route 60 on the Midland Trail.
This two-lane trail routed through the picturesque hills, farmlands, small towns, passed by waterfalls, river gorges, and even coal mines. This scenic drive will definitely give you a feel of driving in a small quaint Hill station.
I would strongly recommend making this 119-mile journey across the south-central West Virginia part of your itinerary and especially during the fall time.
- Best Time to Visit– Anytime between late March up until early November. Although, if you are a fan of fall colors, then visit this place in late October as the colors are wonderful.
- Bridge Day– On the third Saturday of October, the Fayette County hosts “Bridge Day.” On this one day, the New River Gorge Bridge is open to pedestrians and a wide variety of activities- BASE jumping, rappelling, music, and more.
- Babcock State Park– It is one of the oldest parks in West Virginia and located within the boundaries of the New River Gorge National River. Within the park are log cabin accommodations, hiking trails, a lake for fishing and boating, and campsites.
- Rock Climbing– New River Gorge is one of the best places in the U.S. for rock climbing. You can book it here.
- Cathedral Falls– It is located along U.S. 60, the Midland Trail Scenic Highway. The water drops more than 100 feet over a series of overhanging ledges to form one of the most spectacular waterfalls in West Virginia.
I hope this post gets you excited about visiting the New River Gorge in a safe way. If you have questions, just leave a comment on this post.
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