Butcher Branch Falls. Photo: Ed Rehbein
There is one simple reason why spring is the hiking season: the weather. Does it get any more glorious than temperatures in the mid 60s, with crisp mornings and warm afternoons with the sun on your face? The summer humidity hasn’t moved in yet so the sky is as blue as it could possibly be, and the air as fresh as the wildflowers that are beginning to bloom. Yes, indeed, late April is the time to break out the hiking boots and hit the trail, and West Virginia’s New River Gorge is one of the best places to do just that.
Truth be told, the New River Gorge is an outdoor recreation Mecca. Whitewater rafting and climbing are the main draw of the area, but there are ample opportunities to mountain bike, hike, cycle, and even B.A.S.E. jump if you go on the right weekend. The New River itself is also one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the mid-Atlantic and its tributaries hold trout year round. So when we say Mecca, that is not an exaggeration. Pretty much anything you could want to do in the outdoors, you can do at the New River Gorge. Not only that, you can do it at a very high level. But since we have already declared this hiking season, the New River Gorge is full of stunning waterfalls that are easily accessible.
Tributaries of the New flow down the steep walls of the gorge, dropping hundreds of feet in a short distance; that equals waterfalls. Some of our favorites are Craig Branch Falls off the Kaymoor Miners Trail and the beautiful Middle Falls of Fern Creek, but there are more to choose from. Here is our guide to these hidden treasures of the Gorge, so take your pick. You will not be disappointed. Insider tip: stop in at Pints and Pies in Fayetteville following your hike for a pizza and beer to put a cap on a great day.