Hike Date: June 7-8, 2010
Near: Fayetteville, WV
Distance: 25.5 miles
After driving into Fayetteville, WV to get the map and a coffee, I headed towards the first set of trails nearest the town. The New River winds its way for several miles and the hiking areas are divided into several different sections, I visited the northern rim area, Thrumond, and Grandview within the park and then Pipestem State Park just south of there. With tons of trails and limited time, it was difficult to select the trails I was gonna cover. Also, what I really liked about the area was that while I could have connected a bunch of trails together in many of the sections to make longer, couple day hikes, I was also able to do 5 mile loops throughout getting a sense of the area without having to commit to overnights.
The northern rim area provides great views of the New River below and the large suspension bridge that spans the river. Grandview brings a different view of the gorge and a longer view of the river. It was neat to get a wider perspective of the entire area and see the marvelous bridge in the distance. While I haven't been there, I've heard that Fayetteville puts on a "Bridge Day" where people bungee and base jump off it. Standing on the rocks at the edge of the Grandview Trail would be an ideal spot to take in that spectacle. The Thurmond area is an old railroad "town" that has been long deserted but still has many buildings and interesting historical features. It was fascinating to walk around and read the signs and imagine what it was like to live in such an area during the coal and timber boom. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this area and recommend checking it out if you are heading out this way. Pipestem State Park was really an after thought that was on my way back to Damascus, but I was really glad I stopped through there. The river was much lower and there were plenty of nooks and crannies where I got in knee high water with the dog and splashed around. I would love to check this park out again in the future.
The New River Gorge area is tough to put into words and pictures. The running water, lush green landscape and the multitude of trails make this a tremendous weekend (or week) excursion worthy of any drive. Plus, most of the trails are only moderate in difficulty, making it possible to do several miles in different areas without being too exhausted. Highly recommended, the New River Gorge is an epic adventure area that will take your breath away and fill your camera. Happy Hiking!