Now that it’s warm out, why not try one of these beautiful West Virginia hikes? Whether you’re a hiking newbie or novice, add one or two (or five) of these hikes to your spring break to-do list. (Featured photo of Dolly Sods via David Clow/Flickr)

1. Cooper’s Rock – Monongalia and Preston Counties

Raven Rock Overlook at Cooper's Rock State Forest (Npatchett/Wikipedia)

Raven Rock Overlook at Cooper’s Rock State Forest (Npatchett/Wikipedia)

Twenty minutes from Morgantown, Cooper’s Rock State Forest has many different trails ranging in difficulty and walking time, and there is much to see. Ravens Rock trail (1.5 miles) leads to spectacular overlooks of Cheat Lake and the Cheat River Gorge, while the mile-long Rock City trail wind through the towering outcrops of “rock city” canyon for a different experience. Trail Map (PDF)

2. Seneca Rocks – Pendleton County

Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County - via Wikipedia/Jarek Tuszynski (CC 3.0)

Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County – via Wikipedia/Jarek Tuszynski (CC 3.0)

This 900-foot-high rock formation is a popular place for rock climbers. It’s actually the only “true peak” on the east coast—its peak is only reachable by technical rock climbing techniques. But hikers can share in the fun, too, by taking a steep, mile-and-a-half long trail to the top. There are other hikes through the Monongahela National Forest, but you won’t want to miss the Rocks’ sweeping views and that top-of-the-world sensation.

3. Blackwater Falls – Tucker County

Blackwater Falls in Tucker County via Wikipedia/Tim Kiser (CC 2.5)

Blackwater Falls in Tucker County via Wikipedia/Tim Kiser (CC 2.5)

Over 20 miles of hiking trails snake through the woods in the Allegheny Mountains, but the main attraction at Blackwater Falls State Park is the five-story high waterfall. There are a variety of hikes to choose from which take you to different views of the amber-colored water’s journey through the gorge, or you can take a direct route which leads straight to a viewing platform where you can watch the water tumble. Trail Map (PDF)

4. Lost River – Hardy County

View from Cranny Crow in Lost River State Park (srietzke/Flickr)

View from Cranny Crow in Lost River State Park (srietzke/Flickr)

At this serene state park, hikers can walk among the ancient pines and see the vacation home of Robert E. Lee’s family. Then embark on the Miller’s Rock Trail to reach “Cranny’s Crow” viewpoint, with a sweeping view of the surrounding peaks at an elevation of 3,200 feet. Trail Map (PDF)

5. Valley Falls – Marion/Taylor Counties

A variety of hiking trails, all two miles or less, allow you to explore Valley Falls State Park. The trickling waterfalls are formed by the Tygart Valley River and the giant boulders and ledges that make up the rock formation known as the Connoquenessing Sandstone. You might even come upon remnants of an old saw mill, a reminder of the area’s historic past as a thriving lumber community. Trail Map (PDF)

6. Dolly Sods – Grant, Randolph, Tucker Counties



Dolly Sods Wilderness, in the Monongahela National Forest, is a truly unique place. The high-altitude plateau has distinctive flora, fauna, and landscape characteristics, some of which is rarely found south of Canada. The terrain is rocky and certain trails might be difficult, but the natural beauty makes mapping out a hike it well worth it. It’s important to stay on the trails, however, as the area was used as a training ground during World War II and may still contain live, unexploded mortarsTrail Map (PDF)

7. Nelson Rocks – Pendleton County

Not far from Seneca Rocks is another spot particularly popular with rock climbers. It’s easy to see why—the towering, fin-like rock formations are beautifully intimidating. Luckily there are about 2 miles of trails leading up and around the rocks so that hikers can have their own unique experience of the rocks. The area is owned and operated by Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center and offer a number of activities for families like a zip line and climbing wall.

8. Holly River – Webster County

There are about 10 trails within this beautiful state park. Routes such as the High Rock trail (1.5 miles) and the Tramontane Trail (2.5 miles) lead up to a summit for beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, while the lengthy but worthwhile Potato Knob Trail (7.5 miles one way) leads to the hidden gems of the park, the Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa Waterfalls. Wade in the shallow pools at the base of the falls, or stand in the room-like caves behind the falls to watch the water cascade before your eyes without getting wet. Trail Map (PDF)

9. Babcock State Park – Fayette County

via Flickr/Gene

via Flickr/Gene

Explore the old Grist Mill that Babcock State Park is famous for before embarking on one of the park’s trails, which vary in difficulty and distance. For the most spectacular views in the park, take the 2 mile, moderately difficult Skyline trail, which follows along the steep cliffside. For less of a challenge but impressive views, take the half-mile Island-In-The-Sky trail. Trail Map (PDF)

10. North Bend Rail Trail – Wood County to Harrison County

This unique trail is actually made up of 72 miles of abandoned CSX railroad. Accessible from Interstates 77 and 79 north & south, the rail trail is relatively straight and flat, but the hike is far from dull no matter where you start. You’ll walk through tunnels, cross bridges, and come across plenty of points of interest. Scenery varies from different points on the old railroad—parks, streams, farmland, and small towns are common sights. You can learn about local ghost stories and legendary train robbery sites, and might even run into a market or fair along the way. Rail Trail Map (PDF)

11. Rich Mountain – Randolph County

Located in Kumbrabow State Forest, the 3.5 mile Rich Mountain Fire trail will take you to through serene, less-visited sections of the forest and to its Northern border and highest point. Here, a spectacular, 3855 feet high view awaits you, complete with several boulders perfect for sitting, unwinding after the hike and taking in the rolling Allegheny Highlands. Trail Map (PDF)

Have you taken any of these hikes? Tell us in the comments!

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