If there was a location that could be described as the perfect destination for hiking in America, the state of West Virginia would undoubtedly be a top competitor. Aptly nicknamed the Mountain State, West Virginia was seemingly designed for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts who are ready to take on the adventure of a lifetime.
West Virginia is unquestionably one of the best states for hiking. The Mountain State possesses some of the most scenic views of its many mountain ranges, lush forests, and exquisite waterfalls. West Virginia is home to hundreds of exciting hiking trails that are suitable for all hikers.
Could there be a better destination to enjoy an outdoor adventure than the aptly named Mountain State? Indeed, West Virginia could easily be considered as a haven for hikers thanks to its beautifully diverse topography that caters to hikers of all skill and experience levels. Find out why West Virginia should be the destination for your next hiking adventure.
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Hiking In West Virginia
The state of West Virginia is undoubtedly well known for its rich history and beautiful terrain. Indeed, it would not be unrealistic to say that the Mountain State is one of the greatest places in the United States to enjoy a hiking adventure. The nearly endless list of hiking possibilities means that multiple visits will be needed to experience the full extent of the Mountain States’ glory.
The majestic Appalachian Mountains make their way through the Mountain State and are undoubtedly a significant contributor to the state’s vast amount of hiking trails. Combine that with lush forests, roaring waterfalls, steep gorges, and breathtaking panoramic views, and you have everything you need for the outdoor adventure of a lifetime.
One of the best parts about hiking in West Virginia is that there are numerous hiking paths that are suitable for any level of fitness and overall experience. You do not need to be a seasoned hiker to enjoy the beauty of the Mountain State. Indeed, some of the shortest and easiest hiking trails in West Virginia boast an equal amount of beauty as the more strenuous trails.
Oh, and another thing. Out of the 35 state parks found in West Virginia, every single one of them is free to explore. From short, easy hikes to strenuous multi-day adventures, the Mountain State undoubtedly has something for every outdoor adventurer. Let’s dive into all that you’ll need for a hike in West Virginia, as well as some of the best trails to explore.
Preparing For A Hike In West Virginia
Unquestionably, the most important aspect of any hike is the preparation involved. Indeed, as with many things in this world, the key to success and maximum enjoyment is preparation. Let us go over a few vital aspects to consider before going on a hike in West Virginia and even before you choose a hiking trail.
Hiking is unquestionably one of the most popular outdoor activities in the country – especially because of its affordability. While that in itself is a great thing, it often results in people taking on more than they can handle. The last place that you want to find yourself in is on a hike that is far too demanding for your current fitness and physical ability.
Do not be afraid to start small. As previously mentioned, even the shortest and easiest hiking trails in West Virginia boast breathtaking beauty, so there is no way that you will be missing out on anything. Make sure to thoroughly research a trail before embarking on it to determine whether you can handle it, and then work your way up from there as you get more comfortable.
There is also no shame in knowing when to turn around. Do not put yourself in a potentially treacherous situation for the sake of completing a trail – you will have plenty of opportunities in the Mountain State to do that. Lastly, always let someone know when and where you are going and when you will be back for them to check on you.
Always go hiking with a minimum of one other person and keep safety as your number one priority.
What To Wear For A Hike In West Virginia
The next step of equal importance in your hiking preparation is ensuring that you have the appropriate clothing. Indeed, wearing clothing that is suitable for hiking will go a long way in ensuring that your hiking experience is a pleasant one. From the necessary shoes to the appropriate clothing, let’s dive into what you will need for your hike in West Virginia.
Out of all the essential components of any hike, it is fair to say that the shoes that you choose to wear need to take the highest priority. You are going to be on your feet for a large portion of the day – obviously – so having a good pair of shoes that are sturdy and provide comfortable support is essential.
For most short and easy hikes, a good quality pair of trainers or walking shoes should more than suffice, provided that they offer good support and will be comfortable enough to walk in for a few hours.
However, a pair of hiking boots or hiking shoes should not be underestimated and are undoubtedly essential for more strenuous hikes with challenging terrain. The strength, sturdiness, and support that hiking shoes provide are second to none. So, even if you will be embarking on easier hikes, a good pair of hiking shoes will undoubtedly be a great asset if you have the budget for them.
The next vital aspect to consider for your hike is the kind of clothing that you will be wearing. From the best materials to necessary layers, let us dive into what you should wear for a hike in the Mountain State.
Summers in West Virginia are typically hot and humid, so shorts and a t-shirt will likely be your best bet to wear while hiking during this time. Ensuring that your clothing allows for breathability is essential to keep you cool on a hike. Cotton can be great in the summer as it holds a lot of moisture which is helpful to keep you cool. However, during colder months, cotton should be totally avoided.
For a hike during the colder months, long sleeve shirts and long pants will be your best friend as they keep you warm. Again, ensure that the materials provide breathability and that they will also keep you dry. Take as many layers as possible if it is cold. As a general rule, over-preparing for hikes is a good thing. Rather have too many layers that you can remove that have too little.
You do not have to go out and buy a whole lot of fancy hiking clothes. Just make sure that whatever you have, you will be fine with getting dirty. There are some great hiking apparel options out there, but they are not strictly necessary for a hike. Lastly, make sure to bring a raincoat – even if it looks like there is no chance of rain. Over preparing could save you from a lot of unpleasant situations.
What To Bring For A Hike In West Virginia
Alright, now that we have some basic preparation covered along with what clothes you should ideally wear for your hike, the next thing to cover is what you should bring with you on your hike in West Virginia. Make sure to have a comfortable, size-appropriate backpack to bring with you to easily store and transport the essentials that we will be listing.
While not absolutely necessary, having a backpack that has a waist strap is a great idea to ensure that your shoulders are not holding all of the weight. The waist strap helps to distribute the weight more evenly across your body which will undoubtedly make any hike a lot more pleasant. However, try to make sure that you carry as little weight as possible.
Food And Water
It should undoubtedly go without saying, but it is vital that you bring water along with you on your hike. Ensuring that you stay properly hydrated needs to be your highest priority whilst on a hike. Take at least one to two liters (or more) of water with you, and perhaps even a water filtration device if you need to top up your water from one of the nearby rivers or streams.
Bringing some snacks on your hike is a great way to ensure that your energy levels do not drop too much. A few great examples of hike-appropriate snacks are things like trail mix, energy or protein bars, and even jerky. Each of these options is compact enough to easily store a few in your backpack.
More often than not, sunscreen is one of those essentials that is forgotten behind. Ensuring that you have sunscreen with you is vital to the health of your skin and the overall enjoyment of your hike. Put some sunscreen on before you leave for your hike and continue to apply it as necessary. SPF 30 and up will more than suffice.
To avoid the likes of ticks and mosquitoes, bringing some bug spray on your hike can really help in maintaining your overall sanity. You can even spray your legs or pants beforehand to prevent any ticks from latching onto you. A small travel-size can of bug spray will be more than enough.
Although not an essential – or the greatest fashion accessory – hiking polls really come in handy in giving you that extra bit of support and balance, especially on more strenuous hikes. If you do not already own a hiking pole, you do not need to go out and buy one; however, if you have the budget, they sure do make a great asset.
First Aid Kit
For many hikers, the thought of bringing a first aid kit on your hike can seem somewhat over the top. However, any seasoned hiker knows that cuts and scrapes are a totally normal part of any hike. Having some antibacterial cream or spray, band-aids, and bandages for your hike is a great idea, even if it’s only for peace of mind.
The Best Hiking Trails In West Virginia
Now that we have the preparation covered for a hiking adventure in the Mountain State, you are undoubtedly bursting at the seams waiting to know where the best trails in the state are. As previously mentioned, West Virginia has a seemingly endless list of hiking trails, so we’ll help you to plan your next adventure by showing you the best hiking trails in the Mountain State.
Long Point Trail
At roughly three miles in distance, Long Point Trail is one of West Virginia’s moderately difficult hiking trails that boasts some of the most exquisite views of the state. Hikers of all skill levels should easily be able to handle this exciting trail, and the reward will undoubtedly be well worth it!
The climax of the hike rewards hikers with a panoramic view of the New River Gorge – a sight that is simply breathtaking.
Endless Wall Trail
Offering exquisite views of the Potomac River and the mountainous West Virginia scenery, the Endless Wall Trail located in the New River Gorge National Park is undoubtedly a bucket list-worthy trail. The moderately difficult hike starts with a scenic forest walk and eventually leads to the Diamond Point Overlook, where you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view.
The Endless Wall Trail is roughly three miles in distance and should take roughly only two hours or so to complete. However, due to the absolute beauty of this hiking trail, it is highly popular and can experience a fair number of visitors. So, do not expect to have a totally secluded hiking experience here, as you will more than likely be joined by others.
Blackwater Falls Trail
Last on our list – but far from the last trail that West Virginia has on offer – is the Blackwater Falls Trail. This is one of the easier hiking trails in the Mountain State that gives hikers the opportunity to witness a 60-foot-tall waterfall. This is undoubtedly a spot that you will want to take several pictures of because the scenery here is utterly breathtaking.
Although the hike is rated as easy, there are many stairs involved, and the trek back to the parking lot feels a lot more strenuous than the way down. However, it is a great way to get your heart rate pumping and experience the beauty of West Virginia.
There are many more exquisite hiking trails that the Mountain State has to offer; however, we chose these trails as the ones that you cannot afford to pass by. All in all, a hiking experience in West Virginia is guaranteed to be one of the best you will ever have. Do not miss out on a hiking adventure in West Virginia!