A drive through the Potomac Highlands Region of West Virginia offers some truly breathtaking scenery. If you’re planning a road trip this fall, look no further! From the changing leaves of the Monongahela National Forest, to the rapid swell of the Appalachian Plateau and its sweeping views of the Canaan Valley, the miles are sure to creep by unnoticed.
Nestled among the Allegheny Mountains at an average elevation of 3,200 feet, the Canaan Valley is the highest valley east of the Mississippi River.
Named for the amber-colored water of the Black River, Blackwater Falls State Park draws nearly 750,000 visitors every year. The park’s main attraction and one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia, is Blackwater Falls, a stunning 62-foot waterfall.
A boardwalk takes visitors down 214 steps into the heart of the eight-mile gorge. As you approach the five-story high falls, expect to feel some water spray.
A principal tributary of the Cheat River, the Blackwater River gets its hue from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. As the leaves decay, tannic acid leaches out into the water.
There are at least two more waterfalls of considerable size in the park. Elakala Falls is a short hike from the lodge and Pendleton Falls can be viewed from the Pendleton Point Overlook.
Blackwater Falls State Park has over 20 miles of hiking trails. If you’re short on time, the Lindy Point Trail should not be missed. That being said, this trail deceives many upon first impression. What appears to be a gentle trail through a forest filled with rhododendron, leads to one of the most spectacular vistas you’ll ever see!
This hike is not for the faint of heart, but if you lack a fear of heights, the Lindy Point Overlook offers an unparalled view south into the Blackwater Canyon.
A renewed effort to gain national park status for Blackwater Falls and the surrounding Monongahela National Forest has drawn significant media attention. The National Park Service is currently conducting a Reconnaissance Survey of the proposed High Allegheny National Park, which would include the Dolly Sods Wilderness, Otter Creek Wilderness, and Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. The survey is expected to be complete in September.