Our corona cabin in Hardy County is surrounded by lots of great hiking. We’ve got, of course, all the trails at the Lost River State Park, the Wolf Gap Recreation Area and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Plus, we have our own five acres to tromp around on.
But one of our favorite day trips is to Canaan Valley and the Blackwater Falls State Park. Located 47 miles west of our cabin, Canaan Valley is a national wildlife refuge at the headwaters of the Blackwater River, and home to a major ski and golf resort.
Canaan Valley has a pretty standard story for this state: It was full of wild and beautiful forests until logging, railroads and coal came into the area and all the forests were cut down for industry. By the 1920’s, the Canaan Valley was completely barren. In the 1930s, after plans fell through to establish a hydroelectric power plant, the West Virginia Power and Transmission Company donated the canyon and falls to the state and the park was formally established in 1937. All the forests on view today are second- and third-generation growth.
We’ve not been to Canaan Valley Resort in the winter, but in the summer and fall, you can pay $8 to ride the ski lift up to the top of the mountain and hike down to the valley. We did this in July, hiking the provocatively named Bald Knob Trail and the wild blueberries were out of control. We were wishing we had brought a Ziploc bag to haul some out with us. I’ve heard it’s even more gorgeous in the fall when the leaves are turning and the whole valley is ablaze in color.
We did not see another single soul out on Bald Knob Trail in July, which was a moderately challenging hike. At the end of the hike, back at the chairlift base, is a bar and restaurant called Quenchers, which has some outdoor seating. The service is meh and the chef is usually completely missing in action (I guess summer hours are a bit lax?). But the local beer, Big Timber Blonde Ale, is very satisfying after the hike, as are the sidewinder fries (which the waitress can fry up, even if the chef isn’t in yet).
We’ve also hiked and fished along the Blackwater River Trail, which was a nice easy 1-mile loop with beautiful wetland scenery right off the parking lot near the golf area. There are a ton more trails (I think about 18 miles worth) within the resort area to explore, either hiking or via mountain bike.
Just three miles down the road is Blackwater Falls State Park, which is a pretty popular tourist destination. The falls are five stories high and are named after the amber-colored water that’s a byproduct of the tannins picked up from all the fallen leaves and pine and spruce needles along the river’s 31-mile journey.
The park has several overlook platforms to view and photograph the falls, including a handicap-accessible platform. In addition, the park has a 20-mile system of hiking trails. We’ve hiked the short, out-and-back Lindy Point Overlook a couple of times, which has an amazing view of the Blackwater Canyon, and the Elakala Falls Trail, hooking up with the Yellow Birch Trail to create a 4-mile loop that started and ended at the Blackwater Resort parking lot.
The Blackwater Resort has been closed for renovations throughout the summer and fall, so I cannot comment on their waitstaff or the fries.
So there you have it. A nice little daytrip in West Virginia’s Tucker County. As for us, we do plan on visiting sometime during the snow season to check out some of those activities as well.