One of the best ways to see New River Gorge National Park is a from a hiking trail. And one of the great things about this park is that all of the hikes are short and sweet (the longest hike on this list is just 3 miles long). In this guide, we cover the 6 of the best hikes in New River Gorge National Park.
The hikes on this list range from just a fraction of a mile up to 3 miles. These trails range from boardwalk trails, to somewhat easy strolls to great viewpoints, to short, steep trails that lead to historic mining settlements.
I organized these hikes by geographical area, starting in the northern section of the park (at Canyon Rim) and ending in the south (at Sandstone). You can see the locations of the hiking trailheads on the map at the end of this guide.
Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.
#1 Endless Wall Trail
Distance: 2.8 mile loop
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Total Ascent: 400 feet
Lowest Elevation: 1,800 feet
Highest Elevation: 2,030 feet
Time: 1 to 2 hours
Location: Canyon Rim
Endless Wall Trail elevation profile as a loop, starting at the Endless Wall Trailhead.
The Endless Wall trail is one of the best hikes in New River Gorge National Park. It’s a relatively easy hike and the trail leads out to overlooks along the “Endless Wall,” a long line of Nuttall sandstone ridges high above the gorge.
There are two ways to do this hike: as a loop or out-and-back.
Endless Wall Trail as a Loop
There are two trailheads for this hike: the Endless Wall Trail trailhead and the Nuttall Parking Lot. If you do this hike as a loop, you start and end at one of these trailheads. The hiking stats above, and the elevation profile, are for the full loop starting and ending at the Endless Wall Trail trailhead.
If you start at the Endless Wall Trail trailhead, you will first walk through a forest of trees and enormous rhododendrons. It’s very pretty. Once you get out to the “wall,” you can take the short spur trails that lead to the viewpoints. Diamond Point is the main overlook on the Endless Wall Trail. Then, it’s another walk through the forest and a 0.5-mile boring walk on Lansing-Edmond Road to get back to your car.
If you start at the Nuttall Parking lot and want to do this as a loop, you can walk the road first to get this part over with.
Endless Wall Trail Out-and-Back
If we did it again, this is how we would do it.
Park at either parking lot and hike out to Diamond Point and the other overlooks. It’s the same distance both ways if you turn around at Diamond Point.
The view from Diamond Point.
Another view from Diamond Point.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: The Endless Wall Trail parking lot was much more crowded than the Nuttall Parking Lot when we were here, so there might be a better chance getting a parking space at the Nuttall Parking Lot when the park is busy.
#2 Kaymoor Miners Trail
Distance: 1.6 miles out-and-back
Total Ascent: 1,000 feet
Highest Elevation (trailhead): 2,010 feet
Lowest Elevation (mining site): 1,060 feet
Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Location: Canyon Rim
Kaymoor Miners Trail Elevation Profile
This is one of the toughest hikes in New River Gorge National Park. It’s also one of our favorites.
This trail starts on the upper rim of the gorge and rapidly descends towards the river. It takes you to a historic coal mine, the Kaymoor One Mining Complex.
Park at Kaymoor Top (aka “Kaymoor Parking Lot” on Google Maps). You will pass the trailhead just before you reach the parking lot.
First, you hike down a steep, dirt trail to the top of the mining site.
The steps are where the real fun begins. To get to the coal processing plant, you will walk down 819 steps. By the time we got to the bottom, our legs were shaky and we were left wondering how we’d climb back up all of those steps.
The old mining structures at the bottom are surrounded by a fence but you can walk around the this fence to see the buildings.
Note: The buildings at the coal processing plant are located behind a fence. Please don’t cross the fence to visit the buildings. Not only is it dangerous but it also weakens these historic buildings.
To return to your car, it’s time to climb back up all of those stairs. Maybe this hike should be renamed the Endless Stairs Trail.
To keep ourselves entertained on the long climb back up, we decided to count the number of steps.
Tim and I counted 819 steps. The National Park Service says its 821. Either way, it is a LOT of steps, but counting them somehow made it feel easier.
From the top of the stairs, it’s just a half mile to go, now on a steep dirt trail. And guess what, there are stairs here, too! 121 to be exact (for a grand total of 940).
#3 Long Point Trail
Distance: 3 miles out-and-back
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Total Ascent: 400 feet
Highest Elevation: 2,000 feet
Lowest Elevation: 1,740 feet
Time: 1 to 2 hours
Long Point Trail Elevation Profile
For one of the best views of New River Gorge Bridge, put this hike on your list.
To do this hike, park at the Long Point Trailhead on Newton Road. This is a large parking lot and there is a pit toilet.
The trail ever so slightly descends as you hike out to the rim. 0.2 miles from Long Point, the trail makes a steep descent.
At Long Point, enjoy the awesome view.
To finish the hike, retrace your steps. You will first have a short, steep climb but beyond this, the trail is mostly flat.
Note: This is also a mountain biking trail, so keep an eye out for mountain bikers. Bikers have to lock up there bike 0.2 miles from Long Point (there is a metal bar here to lock your bike).
#4 Castle Rock Trail + Grandview Rim Trail Loop
Distance: 1 mile loop
Total Ascent: 210 feet
Highest Elevation: 2,530 feet
Lowest Elevation: 2,440 feet
Time: 1 hour
Castle Rock Trail + Grandview Trail Loop Elevation Profile
Tim and I loved this hike. It’s short, it’s sweet, and hiking along the sandstone walls is tons of fun.
The National Park Service labels this as a strenuous hike but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. There are a few steep climbs and descents but overall it is doable for most people.
Park at the Grandview Visitor Center. The Castle Rock Trailhead is located next to the Grandview Overlook (aka Main Overlook).
Follow the Castle Trail until it connects with the Grandview Rim Trail. The trail has a bunch of short ups and downs, and at times you will have to hike across rocks and rough terrain, but that’s all part of the fun.
It takes about five minutes to get to the sandstone walls and this is where the trail gets really interesting. These walls are immense and lots of fun to photograph (we spent a lot of time here). I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in New River Gorge National Park. The cover photo for this guide was also taken on this trail.
Once you reach the Grandview Rim Trail, turn left to complete the loop. You will walk through tunnels of rhododendrons and there are a few viewpoints over the New River Gorge.
Note: You can hike the Grandview Rim Trail to Turkey Spur Overlook (turn right at the trail intersection). We did this. It’s a very nice walk, and it’s relatively easy, but it runs parallel with Turkey Spur Road. The views from the trail are not much different than those you get from the road. I think your time is better spent hiking the Castle Rock Trail and Grandview Rim Trail loop and then driving out to Turkey Spur, rather than hiking the full trail.
#5 Tunnel Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles out-and-back
Total Ascent: 150 feet
Time: 30 to 45 minutes
This is another fun hiking trail that takes you along massive sandstone cliffs. It starts at the Main Overlook and then winds along the cliffs.
From the trail, look for entrances into the tunnel…a narrow cave that cuts through the cliffs. The tunnel is closed for safety concerns, so you can’t hike all of the way through, but you can walk a short distance into the tunnel.
#6 Sandstone Falls
Distance: 1 mile round trip
Total Ascent: 50 feet
Time: 1 hour
Sandstone Falls is the largest waterfall on the New River. From a series of boardwalk trails and bridges, you get views of both the upper and lower falls. If you want a closer view, you can hike the network of trails to other viewpoints of the falls.
From the parking lot, follow the boardwalk trail to the very end. There are several viewpoints from the boardwalk that are very nice.
Lower Falls from Boardwalk
View of the main falls from the end of the boardwalk.
Just before you reach the end of the boardwalk, there will be steps that lead off of the boardwalk to the right. This connects you to the trails.
The trail splits almost right away. Taking the split to the right takes you out to the lower falls. Here is the view.
If you take the split to the left, you get closer to the main falls (the upper falls). Here is a view from the “beach:”
From the beach, you can scramble up onto the rocks for an even better view of the main falls. Just be careful here. There are numerous warnings about drownings, should you fall in.
There is another trail in this area, the Island Loop Trail, which we did not hike, since it leads away from the falls and looks like it just winds through a forest.
Bonus: The Cliff Side Trail
The Cliff Side Trail is not located in New River Gorge National Park. It is located in Hawks Nest State Park, which sits just to the north of the national park. With views of the New River Gorge, this fun hike is worth adding to your to do list if you plan to spend several days in the area.
This hike takes you along sandstone cliffs, similar to the Castle Rock Trail, and offers views over the New River and Hawks Nest Dam.
Distance: 1.8 mile loop
Total Ascent: 430 feet
Highest Elevation: 1,315 feet
Lowest Elevation: 1,040 feet
Time: 1 to 1.5 hours
Cliff Side Trail Elevation Profile as a loop
Park in the Hawks Nest State Park parking lot just off of Highway 60. The trail starts at the Midland Trail Shelter which is next to the parking lot.
Follow the white blazes on the trees. It’s a steep descent on the first part of the trail. At the trail split, turn right and continue to follow the white blazes. Now, you will be hiking along the sandstone walls. This is the best part of the hike.
Beyond the sandstone walls, the trail climbs back up and you reach the parking lot for the Hawks Nest Overlook. Take in the view. Then, return to your car by walking on the shoulder of Highway 60, which is boring and dangerous.
Alternatively, start at the Midland Shelter, hike out to the end of the sandstone walls, turn around, and hike back to your car. Drive to the Hawks Nest Overlook. This makes the hike shorter and saves you a dangerous walk along the road.
Prior to this hike, we read reviews that said we should be prepared for dangerous cliff edges and rock scrambling. There were a few edges but nothing that felt dangerous and we never encountered any rock scrambling.
Best Hikes in New River Gorge National Park: On a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each hiking trail. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Best Hikes in New River Gorge National Park: Our Recommendations
The most popular hikes in the park are the Long Point Trail and the Endless Wall Trail.
Our favorite hikes are the Castle Trail and Grandview Trail Loop (tons of fun and hiking along the sandstone walls was awesome), the Kaymoor Miners Trail (we loved the challenge of hiking up all of those stairs), and Sandstone Falls.
For the best view of New River Gorge, hike the Endless Wall Trail and/or the Long Point Trail.
If you only have time or the energy for one or two hikes, we recommend the Castle Rock and Grandview Trail loop and choosing between the Endless Wall Trail and the Long Point Trail.
As you plan your trip and just before your visit, get updates on the National Park Service website.
If you have any questions about the best hikes in New River Gorge National Park, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.
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ASHEVILLE: Photographing Waterfalls near Asheville, North Carolina
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