West Virginia gets a bad rap at times, but it’s a beautiful place.  There are so many parks, lookouts and beautiful views to explore.  We took a day trip to look at a piece of property, and took some time enjoy some of the beautiful sights.  We’ve been to Dolly Sods Wilderness a few times (review on that here), and love it.  We explored a few other places that would be worth your time checking out.  (Especially as a day-trip from Columbus!)

Brief Overview

We visited three main sites: Endless Wall Trail, Hawks Nest State Park and Gauley Bridge.

We did visit Cowen first to look at some property, but it was out of the way, and really there wasn’t a ton to see there.  Oh, except the Sugar Shack:

There’s a crazy little shack beyond the tracks. They call it the sugar shack.

Endless Wall Trail

View from overlook at Endless Wall Trail

This was an awesome 2.5 mile hike around the rim of a beautiful overlook, part of the New River Gorge National Park.  There were lots of places for rock climbers, and at the top of the peak, there were climbers doing some rather dangerous-looking things.  We hiked around the rim, and stopped at all the overlooks.  We could see some people rafting down below.

View from overlook on Endless Wall Trail

Practicalities 

The trail almost looks like it’s in a neighborhood, but if you follow Google Maps, you’ll make it to a small parking lot (for about 20 cars) with a sign at the entrance.  There is a bathroom at the entrance as well.

Hawks Nest State Park

We had originally planned on doing the tram, but it was over 90 degrees when we got there and the sun was almost setting which made the sun beating down so hot, we decided that an non-air-conditioned ride in a hot box was a bad idea (especially after a very sweaty hike on Endless Wall), we opted for the steep climb to Lover’s Leap.  Lover’s Leap is a short (but steep) trail to a beautiful overlook. Of course we had to take some “Lovers” pictures here:

Practicalities

When you pull up, the tram and the trail are in the back of the Hawks Nest Lodge.  So it almost looks like you’re parking at a hotel, because you are.  But that’s the way to get to everything.  If you want to take the tram, I’m sure it’s awesome.  The hours can be found here, and there is a cost to do this.  It doesn’t list the cost on the website, but it was about $2-$3 if I remember correctly.  There are bathrooms and a restaurant near the tram office.

Gauley Bridge

We stumbled upon this site on our way back home.  It was so beautiful as the sun was setting over the water, I wanted to pull over and take a look.  The other thing that was awesome was a historic marker that explained what this area was and it’s role during the Civil War.  A bridge over the river was destroyed by Confederate troops in 1861, but some remnants still remain.  This area was also the area where unemployed workers gathered to demand construction jobs during the Great Depression.  Many of these men then served as laborers during the consturction of Hawks Nest dam and tunnel, but a lot men died of silicosis, which makes that construction project one of the world industrial accidents in U.S. history  (For more history, take a look at this write-up.)

Practicalities

If you’re driving through this area, you can’t miss it.  It’s open and right off the main road.  This is actually a pretty populated area, with a few restaurants, and lots of camping grounds for summer vacationers.  We did try to eat at a restaurant called the Glen Ferris Inn, but after sitting down and waiting 10 minutes for anyone to notice us, we decided to get up and leave.  It had a great view of the river though!

I’m excited to explore more of West Virginia, as it’s

 

Nina Thomas

Travel lover and writer

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