On the rim of Blackwater Canyon, in the heart of the Potomac Highlands and Allegheny Mountains, lies the most photogenic area in West Virginia. Native hemlock and red spruce trees shed needles that tan the Blackwater River's fresh water. Where it pours over a rocky ledge, the Blackwater Falls of Blackwater Falls State Park emerge in a cacophony of wet beauty.
The state park features an array of year-round activities and accommodations for nature-lovers. It's no wonder why the park's beauty was first captured and distributed as a WV postcard circa 1910. There's so much to see and do at Blackwater Falls State Park that it might feel overwhelming. That's why we're here with the handful of things you absolutely should see on your trip.
The biggest draw at Blackwater Falls State Park is its namesake. Blackwater Falls is a 57-foot cascade of roaring waters colored by fallen hemlock and red spruce needles in the Blackwater River. These are the highest above-ground falls in the state. It's the closest West Virginians get to their Niagara Falls, and boy, is it pretty.
It has history, too. Native Americans called the Allegheny Mountains home centuries before European adventurers and settlers discovered Blackwater Falls in the 1800s. Now, the Blackwater Falls are West Virginia's most picturesque location. You can reach this majestic area via the Blackwater Falls Boardwalk Trail or the Gentle Trail (a shorter, paved path for beginner hikers).
Blackwater isn't the only waterfall at the park, though. When you park at Blackwater State Park, you'll see a sign pointing to Elakala Falls. Yes, it's worth your time. The 0.5-mile moderate hike down Elakala Trail takes you to a stunning overlook of the smaller falls tumbling through the lush forest.
Lindy Point's trail brings park guests up 3,000 feet to an overview of Blackwater Canyon. This observation deck offers a view of West Virginia you'll be glad you saw. Be wary of the limited parking, however. It's a short 0.3-mile hike to Lindy Point but a trendy one.
Blackwater Falls State Park features 20 miles worth of hiking trails for hikers and mountain bikers. Dobbin House Trail is popular for its path to the Pendleton Lake Dam and Pendleton Point Overlook. Guests can use this trail and continue to Pase Point Trail, which houses a sweet overlook of the North Fork in the Blackwater River.
While hiking, visitors will notice an abundance of wildlife in the park which is part of the Monongahela National Forest. This forest includes one of America's most diverse ecological regions. Hundreds of bird species, various types of endangered animals, and 75 kinds of trees call the state park home. Regulation of the park and surrounding state forest will attempt to protect the environment for endangered animal species like the Virginia big-eared bat, West Virginia northern flying squirrel, Cheat Mountain salamander, and even the area's bald eagles. The spring, summer, and fall seasons make for a beautiful walk through the enormous red spruce trees, and picturesque rhododendron flowers make up this ecosystem. Any related questions? The Harold Walters Nature Center is on-site to give guests a background about the thriving wildlife in Blackwater Falls State Park.
Fish are also abundant in the Blackwater River, making this park an excellent stop for freshwater anglers. Guests need only walk the River Road Trail along the tinted water for their choice in any fishing hole along the way. Moreover, Pendleton Lake is also on park premises—an excellent spot for fishing off land or by boat.
Blackwater Falls State Park is a winter haven. With a bit of snow, hiking trails turn into the perfect lanes for cross-country skiing. Experienced cross country skiers often use Trails like Cherry Lane, while beginners try the Spudder Track Trail. Oh, and the park hosts the longest Sled Run on the East Coast. Sledding through evergreen forests and a quarter-mile of fresh snow? No big deal. The park's management will rent the necessary equipment to visitors as needed. When visitors catch the skiing bug after their time at Blackwater Falls State Park, the next stop is often Canaan Valley Resort State Park which offers downhill skiing and tubing.
Know Before You Go
When To Visit
This is a year-round state park; there's no wrong time to go. The park offers activities for every season and every kind of adventurer. But we highly recommend visiting in the fall-the colors will blow you away.
Food & Lodging
For those who'd like a more extended stay at the park, campsites for tents and RVs are available for reservation through the park's website, over the phone, or upon entry. The campground opens in late April and stays open until October 31 (weather permitting). The park's facilities include fire rings, picnic areas, electric hookups, a dumping station, a central bathhouse with hot showers, and a laundromat.
If roughing it isn't your thing, the Blackwater Falls State Park Lodge on the south rim of the canyon is a popular choice. Here you can enjoy all the comforts of a modern hotel with a breathtaking view of the valley below.
How To Get There
The park is located at 1584 Blackwater Lodge Road in Davis, WV. Blackwater Falls State Park is nestled at the foot of the Allegheny Mountains in Tucker County—part of the greater Monongahela National Forest.
Visitors often frequent nearby towns like Davis and Thomas, WV. These local hubs often provide art shops, breweries, restaurants, and live music—perfect for assimilating back into society after days of camping in the forest.
This article was originally published on May 21, 2021.
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