How to Hike West Virginia in a Weekend
If you have a love for traveling but a lack of funds to do so (like me), road trips are a great way to see surrounding states without the huge price tag of a plane ticket. One thing I often forget about Ohio is how close we are to many other great states that have some incredible hiking. I’m going to share my tips on how to see a lot of the amazing areas West Virginia has to offer in just a weekend.
If you’re like me and cherish every single hour of paid time off you have, you understand how crucial it is to utilize long weekends. Lucky for me, our office closes its doors for major holidays like Christmas, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Memorial Day. So, typically I try to plan travel during these times. Not having to call off work or take time off is a true life saver. For my most recent trip to West Virginia, I went during Labor Day weekend.
Now, the tricky part about West Virginia is that a lot of the great hiking is in isolated areas, or towns that might have one or two hotels. This means the prices for those places are usually a lot higher than you would budget for. If you can, look for an Airbnb in a central town. When we planned our trip, we knew we wanted to explore Blackwater Falls State Park, Seneca Rocks, Dolly Sods Wilderness and Spruce Knob. So from there, we looked at a town that was semi-central to all these locations. We landed on Seneca Rocks, and we found an Airbnb for a price we literally could not refuse ($68/night!!).
Once our sleeping arrangements were confirmed, we began to plan our trip almost to the minute to ensure we could make the most out of our time.
Day 1: Blackwater Falls State Park & Seneca Rocks
We decided to make this our first day of hiking as we knew it would be the easiest and we wanted to start of a bit slower, so we weren’t completely sore for the whole weekend. We started at Lindy Point Overlook, which was about a .8 mile hike. If you’re looking for the incredible vista viewpoints that people often associate with WV, this is an easy hike that will give you that.
From there, we parked at the nearby hotel (Blackwater Falls Lodge) and grabbed some free coffee and WiFi inside before starting on our next hike. Once we were fueled up we hiked from the Elaka waterfall to the Yellow Birch Trail. This was our big hike of the day, totaling about ~10 miles there and back. This trail was so pretty and relatively flat, and it takes you all the way to Blackwater Falls. If you’re not up for a long hike though, you can easily park at each waterfall and check them out. We were all about the journey there, though!
Afterward we drove into the town of Davis and ate at Hellbender Burritos, which was so satisfying after a long day. Both of us are vegetarians and they had a lot of great options, which was unexpected and amazing at the same time! The burritos were huge. I had a burrito, cole slaw, chips and beer for under $20.
Since we were staying in Seneca Rocks, we thought what better way to end the day by hiking up to the overlook there. Although it was rainy/foggy – the hike was a perfect way to end the day. The rain and fog made for a beautifully eerie walk as well. We came back the last day of the trip, which is what you see pictured above. You couldn’t even see the outline of this rock when we hiked it, it was that foggy!
Day 2: Dolly Sods Wilderness
My best piece of advice for hiking this is area is to plan and be as prepared as possible. We thought we were prepared for what was ahead and we certainly were not. Since this is a wilderness area there are no true “trails” throughout. The only thing to guide you is a compass and the cairns along the way. We had an ambitious goal to hike 8 miles and make it to Lion’s Head. I must admit we really struggled and were lost for about two hours during the day. If you really want to experience this area you should plan for a full day here (or more if you plan to camp).
Once we finished our eight hour long hike, we went to Bear Rocks, which is one of the most scenic areas around. Just seeing this area alone made the day worthwhile for us.
Since it was our last night, we decided to check out the other, “less commercialized” town, Thomas. We ate at the Purple Fiddle which was delicious and much needed after our long day. We both ordered a vegetarian Mediterranean dish and downed it in minutes. They had live music, unfortunately we just didn’t have the energy to stay and listen. The Purple Fiddle is definitely a place to check out if you’re looking for good food and some local entertainment!
Day 3: Spruce Knob
Since we had over a five hour drive home, we visited Spruce Knob on our way out. This is the highest point in West Virginia, so the ride up takes about ~20-30 minutes. Make sure you leave yourself enough time. Also bring a jacket and hat just in case, as the weather changes pretty significantly once you get to the top. We did the 1/2 mile Whispering Spruce trail, which allowed us to experience all the amazing outlook views.
I can’t wait to plan another trip to West Viriginia in another part of the state, but if you’re looking to see a lot of beautiful places in a short period of time, I highly recommend this itinerary!