A while ago, I wrote about some of the trails in the 70,000 acres of the New River Gorge National River. Here are a few others you should check out:
Thurmond is located within a few feet of the river. During the coal boom days, the town boasted opera houses, hotels, saloons, and more than 400 residents. More than a dozen passenger trains a day came through town, with the depot serving as many as 95,000 customers a year. Today, it has a population of fewer than 10 and a park service visitor center inside a restored train depot. (The movie Matewan was filmed here. Check out the video—it’s an excellent portrayal of coal miners’ struggles in the early 1900s.)
The six-mile Brooklyn-Southside Junction Trail emanates from the depot and passes through once bustling, but now abandoned, mining communities. The 3.4-mile Thurmond-Minden Trail crosses five railroad trestles, providing views of the river and Thurmond.
Hike the trails farther upriver if you are in the mood for ruggedness and isolation. You can stay in the highlands along the Kates Plateau and Polls Plateau Trails (both are over six miles long), where routes may not always be obvious and the park service recommends using topographic maps and compass. If you fear getting lost, take the six-mile Glade Creek Trail that descends beside the trout-stocked stream to the river’s edge.
50 Hikes in West Virginia provides details on a number of hikes within the area, while many more trails are currently be constructed in the gorge. More information about the national river and its pathways may be acquired by contacting New River Gorge National River, P. O. Box 246, Glen Jean, WV 25846, 304-465-0508; www.nps.gov/neri.