WVVA Photo of the Week
Bluefield, West Virginia
this link goes to the current camping & hiking close-outs and specials on amazon.com ...deep discounts on better quality gear
West Virginia Hiking Trails
This site is designed to provide organized access to West Virginia hiking and backpacking websites. Hiking enthusiasts like you have created excellent web pages on West Virginia hiking trails -- then posted those pages on free web servers -- only to be ignored by search engines. The purpose of this site is to provide a way to find these personal hiking pages, and make your research easier.
- American Discovery Trail "official" page for this coast to coast trail, WV page. Detailed descriptions, photos.
- Blackwater Canyon This is the "Friends of Blackwater Canyon" official website. Cool place, cool site, lots of info here.
- Cathedral State Park & Gaudineer Knob the last 260 acres of old growth forest remaining in West Virginia. This isn't a hiking site per se, but the story of how the old growth forests came to be destroyed. Excellent content by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.
- Cooper's Rock State Forest 15 basic -- very basic -- trail descriptions, along with rules & regs. From WV Division of Natural Resources.
- Dolly Sods great narrative and photos on the NaturalBornHikers.com website. Good info on a truly unusual ecological area in the Appalachians.
- Dolly Sods Good overall where-to and how-to guide to the Dolly Sods area, nice informative website by Jacob Koeppen. Great photos, guide maps, all-around "must click." If you're thinking about doing a website on hiking in a particular area, check this site out, this is how it's done.
- General West Virginia Trails Online a good general page with a lot of links. Big features on this site are Hatfield McCoy Trail, Millenium Trail, and George Washington Bicentenial Trail.
- General TrailPixie.net is a well-done, excellent overall site with all the "key" hiking areas, Dolly Sods, Ramsey's Draft, Spruce Knob, etc...emphasis is on photos, supported with sufficient text to make this a "go-to" site.
- General West Virginia Explorer. This is a comprehensive hiking site, clickable map, regionalized, can't beat it. Good site.
- General/ Central Highlands Region roster of two dozen popular trails with directions and basic descriptions. This is one of the sub-pages on the WV Explorer site listed immediately above. We want to make sure you don't miss this site.
- General laundry list of dozens of popular trails with observations, comments, and a few photos. Gives an overview of key trails in numerous State Parks, and is honest about good trails and duds. Includes Babcock State Park, Beech Fork State Park, Cabwaylingo State Forest, Chief Logan State Park, Droop Mountain Battle Field State Park, Greenbrier State Forest, Holly River State Park, Kanawha State Forest, Monongahela National Forest, Pipestem Resort State Park, Twin Falls, Watoga, and other spots. Interesting to get the author's opinion; site by "Blakey C."
- General -- WV Highlands Conservancy This particular link is to the Mountain outings page. Good group. To reach the main page, click here.
- General Good clickable map with about three dozen hikes, mostly in George Washington NF and Mongahela NF, with new ventures constantly added. Hikes include photos, descriptions, suggestions, detailed topo maps and more...this is a real good guide by Michael Juskelis; we give his sites a double thumbs up.
- Glade Creek Hiking Trails NPS brochure & map online in .pdf format. Worth downloading, not a huge file.
- The Greenbrier River Trail, is a 75 mile long former railroad, now used for hiking, bicycling, ski-touring, and wheel-chair use. The trail passes through numerous small towns and traverses 35 bridges and 2 tunnels as it winds its way along the valley. Throughout much of its length, the Trail is directly adjacent to the beautiful Greenbrier River and is surrounded by peaks of the Allegheny Mountains. "Official" site; map, info, access, etc.
- Monongahela National Forest site features description, hiking info, backpacking suggestions, parking information; pretty darn good personal webpage by Marv Welte. Might take a moment or two to load; this is an AOL member page sort of thing. Well worth the wait; Marv's done a nice job here.
- Nelson Rocks although known as a popular climbing destination, Nelson Rocks Preserve has a couple of spectacular hiking trails available. Good site with map, photos, description, etc. For the uninitiated, "Nelson's Rocks" is privately owned, has a modest admission fee, more amenities, and a little nicer overall presentation than their neighbor to the north, Seneca Rocks. Anyway, their website is terrific; this is just the hiking page, click around to get a better idea of what this place has to offer rock climbers and hikers alike.
- New River Gorge personal hiking page by Okey L. King. Informative. Brief but well-written narratives on key hikes, with photos. Definitely worth a look before your visit.
- New River Gorge National Park Service main Hiking Trail Page. This features pull-down menus, extensive trail descriptions, photos, directions, and more. Excellent! One of the best NPS hiking pages in existence.
- New River Gorge Climbing map on the National Park Service site. In case you're really desperate for a map.
- New River Gorge Climbing Page on the Trails-Edge.com website. Excellent, all-around climbing page. Lots of info, obviously done by people who care and know what they're talking about. Unfortunately this link doesn't take you directly to it. You have to click on "Rock Climbing" in the upper left corner, then scroll down to West Virginia, then click on New River Gorge. Worth the effort.
- Otter Creek Wilderness weekend trip report by John David Fawcett. Excellent narrative, includes Mylius Trail, Shavers Mt. Trail, Green Mt. Trail, Otter Creek Trail. Great photos, fantastic stuff here.
- Seneca Rocks USFS site. This is the publicly-owned, northern version of Nelson's Rocks. I believe that it offers fewer climbing opportunities, but the fees are lower. Hiking trail to the observation platform is outstanding. This website is not.
- Spruce Knob & Seneca Rocks another informative website by Jacob Koeppen; lumps the two together because of their proximity. Hey, it works for me. Good intro to the area, with a scanned trail map you can print. If you land at the page and it says "Dolly Sods," well that's ok, just scroll down a little.
Stranger to Blue Water...
I know of no other state that literally requires you to drive two miles up, down and sideways to drive one mile forward on the map. It's impossible to get anywhere quickly in West Virginia. The locals, however, have it figured out; they simply mash the gas pedal and blast past you, regardless of the road conditions. You may be a terror on the interstate, or the most aggressive rush hour driver around, but when you're winding in and out of the average Monongahela hollow in your Lexus, any local in a rattling C-10 pickup will positively blow your doors off.
And if you think you can get lost and turned around on a West Virginia backroad, you ain't seen nothing. The hiking trails are like a giant bowl of spaghetti. By far the most popular guide is Allen de Hart's
West Virginia Hiking Trails: Hiking the Mountain State, and rightfully so, it is easily the best of the "general" statewide hiking guides. Lots of information and plenty of trails.
Getting more specific,
Day and Overnight Hikes in West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest
by Johnny Molloy is the clear winner. In deference to the aforementioned Allen deHart, he has penned the excellent
Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide, co-authored with Bruce Sundquist. This tome is less popular, but I feel that it's possibly because the publisher (West Virginia Highlands Conservancy) doesn't have the distribution. I also know that you can obtain Molloy's book in an electronic format. Personally, I've never cared for this, but I imagine that with so many people pressed for time in this day and age, the e-book is on the rise. In any event, I have to say I like both books. These links are all on amazon.com, and will save you a couple of bucks off the price you'd pay at a store. Every once in a while you might see a used copy of these books listed on amazon; I've personally found amazon's used books to be an outstanding bargain for hiking books. Unfortunately, not too many of these particular guides are available used, which gives you some idea of how valued they are.
As for our intro, "stranger to blue water," if you knew that line was from John Denver's Country Roads, give yourself two slackpacker trivia points. And if you know the name of the folk trio John Denver got started with is The Chad Mitchell Trio, give yourself five slackpacker trivia points.
-- Rick Bolger
Please click here for the Slackpacker web site
Want to add YOUR Virginia hiking page? It's free, it's easy, and there are no strings attached. Please click the "Submit a Site" button, above left, for instructions and complete information.
Nearby States: [Kentucky] [Maryland] [Ohio] [Pennsylvania] [Tennessee] [Virginia]
PS: Have a dinner invitation? Instead of bringing a bottle of humdrum wine or some meaningless flowers, consider bringing a copy of Smile by Brian Wilson. I won't delve too much into the history of this record, but in a nutshell, this was to be the Beach Boys' magnum opus, scheduled for release in 1967. But after battling drugs, personal demons, resistance from group members, and creative pressures from the Beatles' pending release of Sgt. Pepper, Wilson was incapable of finishing the project. He spent most of the next 20 years in a sort of wacked-out limbo, and then another 15 years before he began reconsidering Smile. For three decades it was touted as the greatest unreleased album of all time. Finally, in 2004, along with original collaborator Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson re-recorded and released his vision of Smile to critical acclaim -- and a somewhat perplexed public. Much like Pet Sounds was in 1966, sales were strong, but not outstanding. 40 years later, Pet Sounds is still studied by musicians; still causing listeners to reverently say "wow" each time they hear it. Perhaps only now is that recording given its full due. If anything, Smile will be the recording that is studied for decades, perhaps centuries to come. If you click on the link (to Amazon) you can listen to samples of a few of the selections.