West Virginia is a beautiful state that offers a wide range of outdoor activities. With its rolling hills, deep valleys, and fast-flowing rivers, West Virginia is a great destination for a weekend getaway any time of the year. Whether you want to visit the city or explore the great outdoors, there is something for everyone in this vast state. For a city experience, check out A Perfect Three-day Weekend in West Virginia: Harpers Ferry. If ticking off a National Park from your bucket list is on the agenda, read up on Exploring New River Gorge National Park. The West Virginia state park system highlight and enhance the state’s amazing natural beauty, protecting the land and providing visitors with easy access to fantastic views. Blackwater Falls State Park is one of the most popular destinations in the state.
Located in the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County, hiking in Blackwater Falls State Park offers an immersive experience, allowing visitors to explore the stunning landscapes. The waterfall is the tallest in the state, standing at 57 feet, with amber-colored waters that get it’s unique “black” color from tannic acid in fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. Blackwater Falls State Park covers about 450 acres of land that was donated by a power company in the 1930s. Nowadays, it boasts a phenomenal view of the Blackwater Canyon, provides 20 miles of hiking trails and offers lodging that ranges from camping to cabins to lodges. The park is a great place to escape for a few days, so here is my weekend itinerary in Blackwater Fall State Park.
Important Information Before Your Visit:
- Location and Accessibility: Blackwater Falls State Park is conveniently located less than a half-hour from the Maryland border, approximately three hours east of Charleston, WV, or three hours west of Washington DC.
- Year-round Accessibility: The park welcomes visitors throughout the year, offering a variety of activities suitable for all four seasons.
- No Entry Fee: There is no entry fee for Blackwater Falls State Park, making it an accessible destination for everyone.
- Navigation Tips: Ensure you have a West Virginia Road map or download an offline Google Map, as cell service might be limited. These tools will guide you seamlessly between different locations within the park.
Best Things to do in Blackwater Falls State Park:
1. Blackwater Falls Overlook
Once you enter the park, keep driving right to the trailhead for the park’s namesake, Blackwater Falls. This easy hike is very popular and worth the hype. Walk down along a combination of dirt trail and wooden boardwalk to the observation decks surrounding the roaring 60-foot tall waterfall. Retrace your steps to return to your vehicle after taking in all the views and snapping lots of pictures. The parking lot offers lots of parking spots but does fill up quickly on weekends. During the winter, it’s highly recommended to wear microspikes due to the slick and icy terrain.
2. Visitor’s Center
It’s always a good idea to stop and grab a snack or souvenir while exploring somewhere new. The visitor’s center is near the Blackwater Falls Overlook trailhead, so it’s an easy stop to add to your list. The visitor’s center offers drinks, snacks, stickers, and other souvenirs – everything a weekend warrior could ask for!
3. Lindy Point
This iconic stop is a must-see while taking a weekend getaway in Blackwater Falls State Park. In contrast to the waterfall views, this short and easy hike leads to a bird’s eye view of the stunning and expansive Blackwater Canyon. Thousands of feet below, the Blackwater River rushes through the rocks between the tree-covered mountains forming the canyon. There are lots of photo opportunities and it is important to use your best judgment and stay a safe distance from the abrupt drop of the cliff-sides. The parking lot is small but it is possible to park across the street from the trailhead and walk, which is a small price to pay given the trail is .7 miles out-and-back.
4. Elaka Falls
The next stop is another waterfall package deal! Offering a series of four waterfalls, this stop is a lot of bang for your buck. The trailhead is located behind the Blackwater Falls Lodge, offering an easy landmark. The short hike leads to a bridge across the main falls and eventually down to the creekbed, providing a fantastic photo opportunity. Depending on the season, the waterfall varies from a trickle to a deluge, but no matter the time of year, the charm is undeniable.
5. Sled Run
If you’re lucky enough to take a weekend getaway in West Virginia during the winter, Blackwater Falls State Park boasts the longest sled run on the East Coast. Taking a quarter-mile run down a mountain covered in fresh snow is the best way to have some winter fun and close out a day of exploring.
For tickets, operating hours, and days of operation, click here.
Best Things to do Outside of Blackwater Falls State Park:
Continuing your weekend getaway to Blackwater Falls State Park, you can venture outside the park to see what the surrounding area has to offer. Not far from the perimeter is Blackwater Canyon Trail in Monongahela National Forest. This trail offers the opportunity to hike to and see three different waterfalls in close succession.
6. Albert Falls
This small but charming cascade is conveniently located right along the roadside and marks the beginning of a series of falls on this portion of the Blackwater River. Parking is available on the side of the road with space for just one car, so use extreme caution when pulling over and re-entering the flow of traffic.
7. Douglas Falls
A larger waterfall than the former, Douglas Falls sits along the roadside as well. Continuing to drive after Albert Falls will lead to a bridge that you can either drive across or park and walk from there. Continue walking along the road to reach Douglas Falls and hop around the rocks to get all the camera angles you could want.
8. Kennedy Falls
The hardest and farthest of the falls to reach, Kennedy Falls lays a short hike off the gravel road. Continuing from Douglas Falls, walk down the road for about .7 miles until you see an orange ribbon tied to tree branches; they may be easily overlooked if you’re not paying attention. These markers indicate the trailhead of the path down to Kennedy Falls, and you can follow them to the destination. There is an 8-foot drop to get to the bottom of the creek so this hike is not recommended for dogs if you intend to get closer to the waterfall.
It is important to note that these waterfalls are located down a gravel road that could potentially be pockmarked with potholes or washed out by rain. A 4×4 vehicle is recommended, but the road is also traversable by a normal car if the driver uses caution while driving. Though fairly accessible during the spring, summer, and fall, the road could be impacted by winter weather. If 3-4 inches of snow accumulates on the ground, authorities will likely close the road. This means visitors will have to park on the side of the main road and hike about a mile down the gravel road to reach their destination.
Where to Stay:
A weekend getaway in Blackwater Falls State Park isn’t complete without a good night’s sleep! This park offers every kind of lodging a traveler could want. For the rustic adventures, there are 65 campsites with electrical hookups and a shared bathhouse. If you somehow forgot your tent, the park offers pre-set canvas tents with a queen-sized bed and charming deck area. For travelers who prefer to sleep indoors, the park has a lodge with 54 renovated rooms ranging from basic king, queen, or twin rooms to suites. If you have a bigger party, the park also has 39 cabins, ranging from classic cabins to vacation homes. For those traveling with furry friends, the park offers dog-friendly cabins so no one has to stay behind. For availability, click here.
After following this weekend itinerary in Blackwater Falls State Park and the surrounding area, you’ll return home with a camera roll full of unique waterfalls and gorgeous canyon views.