Without West Virginia, John Denver would never have written: “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” The song fantasizes about the state’s rivers and mountains, but there’s one thing it’s missing: waterfalls. West Virginia is jampacked with mesmerizing waterfalls–over 200, to be exact–that take tranquility to another level.
This guide will take you to some of the best sites along West Virginia’s statewide Waterfall Trail. If you want the ultimate experience, sign up for the free Waterfall Trail Passport! You can win up to three prizes just for checking in at these breathtaking waterfalls, so take advantage of this fun offer.
Northern West Virginia
The northern part of the state is known for its rough, tough, and rugged mountainous terrain and the Allegheny Plateau. Here you’ll have the chance to drive backcountry roads through the Appalachian Mountains, explore valleys, and see what makes West Virginia so special.
Oglebay Falls is an excellent way to start your waterfall-chasing adventure. A gentle rush of water drops from not just one but two moss-covered shelves, making the falls perfect for picturesque photo ops. The best part is that the stream is nice and shallow, so you can get face-to-face with this lovely waterfall–just make sure to watch your step. For the easiest way to access Oglebay Falls, take the Falls Vista Trail from the Schrader Center and enjoy the views.
Inside the Valley Falls State Park, a bend in the Tygart River creates a patch of must-see waterfalls. Getting to the site is as simple as hopping on the 0.2-mile Tygart Valley Trail, which will put you right next to the rushing water. There are plenty of areas to sit on the rocks and let the drone of the waterfalls lull you into a relaxed, meditative state.
Muddy Creek Falls
Muddy Creek Falls is the perfect destination for a look at West Virginia’s untamed wilds with a splash of history. Within Muddy Creek Park, there’s a section of river that slips, slides, and drops off dozens of rock shelves. Don’t feel rushed to see the falls and leave because there’s a wonderful picnic area to relax and enjoy the scenery. If you want a little side adventure, check out the historic furnace in the park built in 1854!
Elakala Falls can’t be missed if you’re in the northern part of the state. You’ll find it in the Blackwater Falls State Park, and it’s guaranteed to leave an impression. It might not be the biggest waterfall, but the way the water rushes under a wooden bridge, staggers down the multi-layered cliff, and ends in a pool surrounded by rocks, leaves, and trees truly makes it a sight to see.
Central West Virginia
Central West Virginia boasts rolling hills, mountains, farmlands, rivers, and lakes. There are plenty of great outdoor recreation areas, such as the Stonewall Resort and Holly River State Parks, and other attractions, like the West Virginia State Museum.
Mill Creek Falls of Kumbrabow
Interested in getting lost in the lush trees of West Virginia and stumbling upon a sparkling waterfall? Then head over to the Kumbrabow State Forest. Within the forest, Mill Creek Falls is engulfed by a gorgeous scene of towering and fallen trees. In the warmer months, the pool beneath the falls is an excellent spot to take a dip or cast a line.
Seneca Creek Falls
If you don’t mind embarking on a five-mile hike, put Seneca Creek Falls high on your places-to-visit list. The falls are located in the Monongahela National Forest, where you’ll be far away from highways, cities and cars. The area has several remarkable camping spots, so you can turn the experience into a full-blown nature retreat. Make sure to pack your fishing pole for the chance to reel in incredible royal blue crawfish.
High Falls of the Cheat
Despite its name, High Falls of the Cheat may not be shockingly tall, but it sure is wide! The picturesque cliff the water flows over stretches for over 100 feet! Like Seneca Creek Falls, High Falls is also in the Monongahela National Forest. Getting there means taking a fairly long hike (seven miles roundtrip), but you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful selection of swimming holes to freshen up along Shavers Fork.
Along the scenic Valley Fork Road, Whitaker Falls is just waiting for you to experience its beauty. Just a quick walk from the road, you’ll stumble upon a section of river that comes to life as streams of refreshing water cascade over a wide-stretching cliff. There are some dispersed camping options nearby, or you could book a night at the cozy Elk River Inn & Cabins, a pleasant 30-minute drive away.
Upper and Lower Falls of Holly River
Holly River State Park offers a two-for-one waterfall deal you can’t pass up. The Upper and Lower Falls are both easily accessible and equally stunning. The waterfalls can start flowing heavily during the wetter months, but their beauty holds up even in the dryer seasons. If you feel like having the full nature experience, take a walk up the Potato Knob Trail to access the falls (a less strenuous option is available off Pickens Grade Road). Don’t skip over all the other great activities in Holly River State Park! From horseback riding to camping to geocaching, there’s plenty to do for an enjoyable few days in nature.
Southern West Virginia
Southern West Virginia is home to the New River Gorge National Park and endless opportunities to get out into nature. It’s also where the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is, which includes hundreds of miles of off-road trails.
Marsh Fork Falls and Black Fork Falls
If you’re traveling in southern West Virginia in spring or winter, you’re right on time to check out Marsh Fork Falls and Black Fork Falls. These two seasonal waterfalls are found along the Falls Trail Loop in the Twin Falls Resort State Park. The trail is only about 1.5 miles, and you don’t need to prepare for anything too difficult. Even if you’re in the area during the drier seasons, the state park is great for ATV riding and camping–electric hookups are available. In addition, the Twin Falls Resort is known for incredible farm-to-table meals, live music shows and great holiday activities.
Brush Creek Falls
Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but Brush Creek Falls’ height of 30+ feet certainly leaves an impression. Over in Mercer County, the waterfall is just north of the Brush Creek Preserve. Once you park, it’s an easy stroll to the waterfall. Since it’s a bit off the beaten path, there’s a good chance you’ll have the whole place to yourself. While you’re in the area, stop by Pipestem Trading Post for a tasty lunch, antiques and fresh jams.
Campbell Falls is a photographer’s dream location. Water from Camp Creek staggers down a stretch of rock shelves before continuing its journey downstream. You can capture several lovely angles of the waterfall, and this location is arguably more beautiful when water levels are lower. The towns of Bluefield and Princeton are great places to grab a bite to eat before or after seeing the waterfall. Check out the Blue Spoon Cafe for a delicious breakfast or lunch.
Bonus Falls: Big Branch Falls
West Virginia is home to New River Gorge, a 70,000-acre national park and preserve. Inside, the Big Branch Trail–a 2-mile loop–will lead you to the glorious Big Branch Falls. A rush of water drops from a cliff about eight feet tall and flows down moss-covered stones. Unlike some other waterfalls, Big Branch Falls is tucked away in its own little section of nature, resulting in a fantastic backdrop. The trail and falls are about an hour from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. There, you’ll have stunning views of the New River Gorge Bridge that’s worth checking out, no matter the season!