West Virginia is home to both nature and industry. For decades coal mining has been a major industry in this state. The state is also home to numerous state parks, six national parks, and over 275 waterfalls.
The waterfalls in West Virginia vary in location, size, and accessibility. Some waterfalls such as Blackwater Falls, and Pipestem Falls are found in the gorgeous state parks in the state. These state parks offer recreational opportunities, camping, and lodging to visitors, in addition to beautiful waterfall views.
Some of West Virginia's waterfalls are found in national parks. One prominent national park area is New River Gorge. Waterfalls such as Sandstone Falls will take your breath away in these areas of the state.
National forests, including Monongahela National Forest, are also home to many beautiful waterfalls. High Falls is one of these waterfalls. It is a waterfall that one must hike too.
Whether you visit an easily accessible waterfall in one of West Virginia's state parks or a hike in only water fall deep in the national forest, the waterfalls of West Virginia are impressive. There is a waterfall that will astound you in this state, no matter what your time frame is or what your hiking ability may be.
This is a list of the top fifteen waterfalls in the state. If you have the chance, you should check out one or all of these waterfalls, next time you visit West Virginia.
1. Blackwater Falls
Blackwater Falls is found deep in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia at Blackwater Falls State Park. The waterfall is 57 feet tall and visible year-round.
There are numerous hiking options at Blackwater Falls State Park, totaling in 20 miles. The most direct route to view Blackwater Falls takes hikers fifteen to twenty minutes to reach.
Blackwater Falls State Park is a great place to recreate beyond checking out the majestic, waterfall in the park. The dense hemlock and spruce forest are a great place to birdwatch and identify other plants and animals.
There are also several swimming opportunities. Geocaching is a popular activity here. In the winter, you can ski at the park. Blackwater Falls State Park has the longest magic carpet on the east coast.
Fishing, boating, and camping are all other popular activities near Blackwater Falls. There is even a lodge to stay at and cabins on site, for those that do not wish to tent camp.
No matter how you prefer to recreate and no matter what season it is, Blackwater Falls is a great place to visit. It’s not only a beautiful waterfall, but also a place to learn, observe, and play.
2. Cathedral Falls
Credit: National Park Services
Cathedral Falls is a gorgeous waterfall that is easy to find off of Route 60. It is near the Gauley Bridge. The waterfall can be accessed from the road, by hiking about ten minutes. It can also be reached from the Midland Trail.
This waterfall is typically not very busy. Parking is very limited at this location, as the only parking area is a dirt pull off on the shoulder.
Rain has as direct impact on the flow of this sixty-foot waterfall that sits in an astounding natural amphitheater. If you want to see Cathedral Falls shine to its full potential, you will want to visit it during the spring months.
Unfortunately, there is not a restroom at Cathedral Falls. Additionally, the trail to the waterfall is not designed for those with mobility issues. If you are with young children or someone with limited mobility you will want to check out a different waterfall on this list.
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3. Elakala Falls
Elakala Falls is the series of four waterfalls that go down the area known as Shay’s Run. It drops into Blackwater Canyon and is found in Blackwater State Park.
The four waterfalls differ in height. The first is the most accessible at 35 feet. The other falls are more difficult to reach. In total the drops between the four falls are 200 feet.
There are many versions of the formation and naming of the falls in Native American culture. One of these popular stories says that Princess Elakala threw herself into the waterfall after her lover scorned her. Other stories tell of a warrior named Elakala.
There is a fee required to access Blackwater Falls State Park. This fee is worth paying, as Blackwater River State Park offers many other recreational activities for those that visit. Photography, camping, hiking, and swimming are all popular here.
4. Brush Creek Falls
Brush Creek Falls is a waterfall that is 25 feet tall and 50 feet wide. The waterfall is found near Mercer, West Virginia along Brush Creek.
Parking is offered to visitors at the nature preserve in the area. This a great place to have a picnic before or after checking out the waterfall. The hike to the falls is short. At just 1000 feet, it’s easy for most to reach the waterfall from this parking lot.
Brush Creek Falls is open year-round. It can be a popular spot for locals to party at, due to its ease of access. This unfortunately means there can be trash in the area.
Brush Creek Falls is open year-round. No matter what time of year you visit West Virginia, it is worth stopping at.
5. Indian Branch Falls
Indian Branch Falls is a forty-five-foot waterfall that is found in Pipestem Resort State Park. The falls accessible from three key locations. You can park right at the falls to view it, or you can take a short hike from two other locations.
The first route that requires hiking to the falls is from the Pipestem Nature Center. It is a 1.5-mile hike from this popular parking location in the park. The alternate route to Indian Branch Falls is from the Canyon Rim Center.
You cannot get up close to this waterfall. The best and only place to view it is from above the falls. Pipestem Resort State Park offers many other activities and overnight accommodation. There is much more for one to do if they choose to pay the fee required to visit this beautiful place and visit Indian Branch Falls.
6. Douglas Falls
Douglas Falls is located near Thomas, West Virginia. This waterfall is accessible via a nice easy 0.6 mile out and back trail. The view of the falls is from above, from this trail.
Accessing the waterfall at water level is much more treacherous and only for adventurous individuals. There is a route to the falls at the water, but you must use a rope along the trail to safely maneuver along the route.
There are interpretive signs on the way to the falls describing the history of the area. This region of West Virginia, near the Appalachian Trail, is near coal mines. Do not swim in the water at this waterfall. It has been contaminated by coal miners.
Douglas Falls is near many excellent picnic and dispersed camping spots. It’s a great place to visit if you want to enjoy the natural beauty of Appalachia and take in a bit of history, along the way.
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7. Valley Falls
Valley Falls is a beautiful 20-foot waterfall on Route 310, near Fairmont, West Virginia. It is located within Valley Falls State Park.
Valley Falls is several hundred feet wide, so when the river is low it appears segmented. The waterfall has two drops, and the falls narrow down the drop. This set of waterfalls is very popular among kayakers.
The area surrounding this waterfall was once a booming town. There was a lumber mill, ferry, schools, and more here until the late 1880s. In 1886 there was a fire and then the town flooded in the years following, wiping it out. The state took it over and eventually made it to be Valley Falls State Park.
The area surrounding Valley Falls is now popular among fishermen, bikers, and hikers. If you are looking for a place to get outside and enjoy a beautiful waterfall and other outdoor recreation opportunities, then this waterfall is worth checking out!
8. Sandstone Falls
Credit: National Park Services
Sandstone Falls is located along the New River. It is in New River Gorge an area managed by the National Park Service.
Sandstone Falls is extremely wide compared to many other waterfalls in the state, as it is 1500-feet wide. The river gets much narrower once it passes past Sandstone Falls.
The drive to reach Sandstone Falls if off the beaten path. Once you leave Interstate 64, the route to the waterfall weaves through an area of rich history.
There is a ton of information available to those visiting the area at the New River Gorge Visitor Center. This area was once rich with life from the railroad industry.
Today, the area surrounding the falls is popular among hikers. It’s also a wonderful place to spend time with friends picnicking.
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9. High Falls
High Falls are in Monongahela National Forest, near Glady, West Virginia. To reach the waterfall, you must be fit and have proper hiking attire, unless you take the train. The route to and from the falls is 7.7 miles long, round trip, most find it to be a challenge.
High Falls is a beautiful sight year-round, but the best time to view it is from April to October. The waterfall can best be reached from a trailhead on Forest Road 44. The New Tygart Flyer train also can take you there, for a fee.
If you visit High Falls, you will be mesmerized by the old growth hemlock that overtakes the forest. This is a great place to spend a day or two exploring. There are many excellent dispersed camping sites nearby.
10. Pipestem Falls
Credit: West Virginia State Parks
Pipestem Falls is a 30-foot waterfall near Pipestem, West Virginia. The waterfall is located on the side of Route 20, along Pipestem Creek. Pipestem Creek flows to Bluestem River, which leads to New River.
The pull-off to the waterfall is easy to locate. It is nine miles south of Hinton. The best view of the falls is down in the gorge. You can view it from above, too. The trek down the gorge can be sketchy and slick depending on the weather in the area.
Pipestem Falls is near Bull Falls. If you make the trip this waterfall you may consider checking out its neighbor too!
11. Whitaker Falls
Credit: C. Vecchio / Flickr
Whitaker Falls is located in the beautiful, lush, Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. The waterfall can be found on the Elk River on Route 15. It is just past Elk River Lodge.
Whitaker Falls is an extremely easy to reach waterfall to view. There is absolutely no hiking required to view it from the side of the road.
This waterfall is a beautiful sight. It’s also an excellent place to swim in when the weather is warm. If you enjoy fishing, the trout are plentiful here too!
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12. Falls of Hills Creek
The Falls of Hills Creek is a series of three outstanding waterfalls, near Hillsboro in Pocahontas County. The waterfalls are 20-feet tall, 45-feet tall, and 65-feet tall. The 65-foot waterfall is one of the tallest in West Virginia.
The Falls of Hills Creek are easy to reach from Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, which is five miles away. You can park right at the falls. The first waterfall is accessible to all, including those with limited mobility and other limitations.
The second waterfall is access by going down wooden stairs and a dirt path. The lowest waterfall is ¾ of a mile further down the trail, and not as easy to access for those with limitations.
The Falls of Hills Creek are beautiful in both winter and summer months. In the summertime over 40 species of waterfalls cover the forest floor surrounding the falls.
If you are hoping to see a truly amazing set of waterfalls in one place, you won’t want to miss this stop!
13. Wonder Falls
Credit: zodia81 / Flickr
Wonder Falls is a 15-foot waterfall near Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. The waterfall sits on Big Sandy Creek. The easiest way to reach the falls is by wading down the creek.
Wonder Falls is a very popular place for rafting and kayaking. The road to the waterfall is can only be traveled by four-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs. It is very rough.
If you are in a low clearance vehicle such as a compact car, you will not want to drive out to the waterfall on this road. You may choose to bike or hike instead.
Wonder Falls is an excellent place to have a picnic and swim. There are big flat stones to sit and have a picnic on. There are also great pools to cool off in, during the humid summer months.
14. Peach Tree Falls
Peach Tree Falls is located near Naomi, West Virginia. It is where Peach Tree Creek flows into Marsh Fork River. It is a 30-foot waterfall, and not as popular as some of West Virginia’s other waterfalls.
Peach Tree Falls sits about several other waterfalls. It is along a stretch of Peach Tree Creek that is great for swimming.
The waterfall is in an area where coal is the main industry. Many agree, it shows that even in an area of the state where the landscape is destroyed for coal, there can be immense beauty.
If you are exploring coal country and looking for a place to stop and walk or have a picnic, Peach Tree Falls is a great option.
15. Glade Creek Falls
Credit: National Park Services
Glade Creek Falls is located in Clifftop, WV at Babcock State Park. The state park is home to Glade Creek Grist Mill, which sits right above these beautiful waterfalls.
The falls run through this area year-round. There are extremely beautiful in the fall, during the changing colors. If you want to get amazing pictures of the falls below the mill, this is the best time to do so.
Glade Creek Mill still grinds cornmill today, giving visitors a glimpse at an industry that once flourished in West Virginia. If you are looking for a great place to hike and explore the natural beauty of West Virginia, this state park has several amazing hiking trails.
Babcock State Park is open daily from 8:00am to 10:00pm. There are camping and cabin rentals available in the area, for those that want to spend more than just one day checking out this gorgeous waterfall and its surroundings.