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West Virginia, often referred to as the “Mountain State,” boasts some of the most scenic and breathtaking hiking trails in the United States. With its diverse terrain, including the rolling Appalachian Mountains and lush forests, West Virginia is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice looking to explore the great outdoors, this list of the 15 best hiking trails in West Virginia has something for everyone. Strap on your hiking boots, pack some water and snacks, and get ready to explore the natural beauty of this stunning state.

1. Seneca Rocks Trail

Seneca Rocks Trail

Location: Seneca Rocks

Difficulty: Moderate

The Seneca Rocks Trail is perfect for hikers seeking a moderate challenge and stunning vistas. The trail leads you through a lush forest before ascending to a spectacular viewpoint of Seneca Rocks, a striking fin-shaped rock formation that stands tall against the backdrop of the Monongahela National Forest.

2. Dolly Sods Wilderness

Dolly Sods Wilderness

Location: Laneville

Difficulty: Moderate

Dolly Sods Wilderness offers a unique experience with its high plateau bogs and open meadows. The terrain can be rugged, but the reward is the breathtaking views of rolling hills and vibrant wildflowers. This trail is especially beautiful in the fall when the foliage turns vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow.

3. Spruce Knob Trail

Spruce Knob Trail

Location: Spruce Knob

Difficulty: Easy

Spruce Knob is the highest point in West Virginia, and the Spruce Knob Trail provides an easy, family-friendly hike to the summit. Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. On clear days, you can see for miles, making it an ideal spot for a picnic or stargazing at night.

4. Cranberry Glades

Cranberry Glades

Location: Hillsboro

Difficulty: Easy

Cranberry Glades is a unique ecosystem that offers easy and scenic boardwalk trails. The area is known for its wetlands and diverse plant life. It’s a great place for birdwatching and observing the abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for unique plant species that thrive in this remarkable habitat.

5. North Fork Mountain Trail

North Fork Mountain Trail

Location: Seneca Rocks

Difficulty: Challenging

For experienced hikers looking for a challenge, the North Fork Mountain Trail is a rugged adventure through the Monongahela National Forest. This long-distance trail spans over 24 miles and offers hikers stunning views of the surrounding valleys and rocky outcrops. Be prepared for steep climbs and rocky terrain, but the effort is well worth it.

6. Greenbrier River Trail

Greenbrier River Trail

Location: Cass

Difficulty: Easy

The Greenbrier River Trail is a well-maintained, easy-going trail that’s perfect for hikers of all levels. This rail-trail follows the scenic Greenbrier River for over 77 miles. You can choose to hike a portion of the trail or tackle the whole thing over a few days. The path is mostly flat and offers a variety of beautiful river views.

7. Pipestem Resort State Park

Pipestem Resort State Park

Location: Pipestem

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Pipestem Resort State Park offers a network of trails suitable for both beginners and intermediate hikers. With a mix of easy strolls and more challenging climbs, you can explore the beauty of the Bluestone Gorge and admire the scenic views from the Bolar Lookout Tower.

8. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

Location: Cass

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is a fascinating destination for both train enthusiasts and hikers. You can take a steam-driven locomotive to the Whittaker Station and then explore several trails in the area. The journey through the hardwood forests is simply enchanting, especially in the fall when the foliage is at its peak.

9. Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park

Location: Davis

Difficulty: Easy

Known for its stunning waterfall, Blackwater Falls State Park offers several easy, family-friendly hiking trails. The falls are a must-see, but don’t forget to explore the park’s other trails, like Elakala Falls and Pendleton Point Overlook, for more scenic beauty.

10. Coopers Rock State Forest

Coopers Rock State Forest

Location: Bruceton Mills

Difficulty: Moderate

Coopers Rock State Forest is famous for its impressive overlook, which provides a striking view of the Cheat River Gorge. The forest has a range of trails, from easy walks to more challenging routes. It’s a fantastic place for rock climbers as well, with many climbing routes available.

11. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Location: Harpers Ferry

Difficulty: Easy

Harpers Ferry is a historic town nestled at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. The park offers easy trails that wind through a landscape rich in history. Explore Civil War battlefields, visit museums, and enjoy the stunning riverside scenery.

12. Bear Rocks Preserve

Bear Rocks Preserve

Location: Thomas

Difficulty: Easy

Bear Rocks Preserve is part of the Dolly Sods Wilderness and offers a unique hiking experience. The rocky terrain and open meadows provide stunning views, especially at sunrise or sunset. The rocky landscape is reminiscent of a more arctic environment, and the contrast with the surrounding area is striking.

13. Audra State Park

Audra State Park

Location: Buckhannon

Difficulty: Easy

Audra State Park is home to the Middle Fork River, which meanders through picturesque woodlands and rock outcrops. The Alum Cave Trail is a popular choice for hikers, leading to a beautiful natural cave. The park’s tranquil atmosphere and lush surroundings make it a great place for a leisurely hike.

14. Coopers Rock Overlook Trail

Coopers Rock Overlook Trail

Location: Bruceton Mills

Difficulty: Easy

For a shorter but equally rewarding hike in Coopers Rock State Forest, the Coopers Rock Overlook Trail offers a quick escape to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the Cheat River Gorge. This trail is perfect for those looking for a relatively easy hike with a big payoff in terms of scenic beauty.

15. Allegheny Trail

Allegheny Trail

Location: Various

Difficulty: Varies

The Allegheny Trail is an ambitious long-distance hiking route spanning over 300 miles through the heart of West Virginia. While not for the faint of heart, it offers an incredible journey through the state’s diverse landscapes. Hikers can choose shorter sections or embark on a thru-hike adventure, experiencing West Virginia’s wilderness to the fullest.

And Remember

No matter which of these incredible West Virginia hiking trails you choose to explore, always prioritize safety. Make sure to check the weather conditions, inform someone of your plans, and carry essential hiking gear. Respect the environment, leave no trace, and savor the unique natural beauty of the Mountain State. West Virginia’s hiking trails are a treasure waiting to be discovered, offering adventure and tranquility in equal measure. So, lace up your hiking boots and get ready to experience the rugged beauty of West Virginia.


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Summary

West Virginia’s hiking trails offer an array of experiences, from easy strolls along the riverbanks to challenging hikes that reward you with sweeping vistas. The state’s natural beauty is on full display, with its lush forests, rugged mountains, and unique geological formations. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice looking to enjoy the great outdoors, West Virginia has a trail that suits your preferences. So, plan your next hiking adventure and explore the wonders of the Mountain State.

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