Blackwater Falls State Park: West Virginia’s Wonderland
Nestled deep within the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County, West Virginia, lies a hidden gem that has captivated the hearts of nature enthusiasts for generations – Blackwater Falls State Park. This picturesque park gets its name from the mesmerizing Blackwater Falls, a stunning 57 foot cascade. But there’s so much more to this park than its namesake waterfall.
Blackwater Falls State Park offers a serene and tranquil escape to all its visitors. It’s an absolute treasure among State Parks, featuring enchanting forest trails meandering through lush hemlock and red spruce groves, along with picturesque vistas that provide breathtaking views of the Blackwater River and the awe-inspiring canyon.
To truly immerse yourself in the beauty of Blackwater Falls State Park, consider staying overnight. The park boasts an array of accommodation options to cater to all tastes and preferences.
For those seeking a rustic experience, there are campgrounds open late April through October 31 (subject to change). These campgrounds offer 65 tent and trailer sites, each equipped with electric hookups for added convenience. A centrally-located bathhouse provides hot showers, a laundromat, and a dumping station, ensuring your stay is comfortable and hassle-free.
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If you prefer a cozier retreat, the park offers cabins nestled in a wooded area near the lodge. The classic cabins, constructed with wood frames, feature various room and bedding arrangements, fully equipped kitchens, linen services, wood-paneled walls, open fireplaces, and modern amenities such as WiFi, flat-screen televisions, HVAC units, and more. There are also vacation-style cottages with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, gas fireplaces, and porches for forest views. Whether you choose a classic cabin or a vacation cottage, you’ll find peace and quiet in these accommodations.
And for those traveling with furry companions, Blackwater Falls State Park has you covered with pet-friendly cabins, ensuring that no family member is left behind.
No matter when you visit Blackwater Falls State Park, there’s always something exciting to do. In winter, experience the thrill of the longest sledding magic carpet on the East Coast, complete with a 14,000-foot Wonder Carpet conveyor – a winter wonderland dream come true.
During the warmer months, venture out to nearby Pendleton Lake for kayaking, canoeing, or stand-up paddleboarding. The boathouse at Pendleton Lake is a perfect starting point for your aquatic adventures. After Labor Day, boat and floatation rentals are available on weekends, weather dependent.
The park also offers a range of outdoor activities including game courts for tennis, volleyball, and basketball, making it the ideal destination for sports enthusiasts. And don’t forget to explore the disc golf course, an 18-hole layout that introduces players to pollinator habitat and provides ample opportunities for wildlife sightings.
One of the park’s most captivating features is, of course, the stunning Blackwater Falls, where the Blackwater River plunges five stories before winding through an eight-mile-long gorge. The distinctive amber color of the water is due to tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles, making it a prime spot for photographers and nature lovers.
In addition to the falls, there are several other smaller waterfalls within the park, such as Elakala Falls and Pendleton Falls, accessible by scenic trails. The falls, chutes, cascades, and overhanging ledges add to the park’s natural charm.
The history of Blackwater Falls State Park is as fascinating as its natural beauty. The park’s name, though often attributed to early explorer Meshach Browning, remains shrouded in mystery. Travel writer Philip Pendleton Kennedy first described the Blackwater Canyon in 1853, but it was his cousin David Hunter Strother who put the Falls on the map with illustrations in “The Virginia Canaan.”
The area around the falls saw a surge in popularity in the late 1800s, with the Dobbin House providing lodging for visitors. Tragically, the falls also witnessed several accidents over the years.
In the 1930s, the West Virginia Power and Transmission Company donated land around the falls to create the park, which was officially established in 1937. Over the years, the park expanded, adding cabins, a lodge, and fishing facilities.
The geology of Blackwater Falls State Park is characterized by the Connoquenessing sandstone of the Middle Pottsville Formation, creating the dramatic landscape of waterfalls and canyons. The park’s diverse forest includes red spruce, eastern hemlock, yellow birch, American beech, red maple, and black cherry.
As for wildlife, keep your eyes peeled for various species, including bass, bluefill, catfish, and trout in Pendleton Lake. The Blackwater River is regularly stocked with trout in spring and summer, making it a haven for fishing enthusiasts. Birdwatchers will also delight in spotting a variety of avian residents.
Blackwater Falls State Park isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, a tranquil retreat, or the chance to immerse yourself in nature’s wonders, this park offers it all. From the iconic Blackwater Falls to hiking trails, camping options, and a rich history, there’s no shortage of reasons why Blackwater Falls State Park should be on your travel bucket list. So, pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to discover “almost heaven” in West Virginia.
Blackwater Falls State Park Trails
Blackwater Falls State Park offers a paradise for hikers with its 20 miles of diverse trails that wind through lush forests, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. One must-visit trail is the Blackwater Falls Trail, a 0.4 mile loop that leads you down a staircase of over 200 steps to an observation deck with unparalleled views of the falls. Be cautious, though, as these stairs can get icy and slippery during the winter months.
For those seeking a more extensive trek, the Elakala to Yellow Birch Trail beckons. This 4.6-mile loop not only takes you past Elka Falls but also immerses you in the forest, culminating in a stunning viewpoint of the Blackwater River and the iconic Blackwater Falls itself. Keep in mind that the trail can get quite muddy in spring, so sturdy, waterproof footwear is advisable.
What’s Nearby Blackwater Falls State Park
While Blackwater Falls State Park is a destination in its own right, it’s surrounded by an array of remarkable natural attractions waiting to be explored. Just a short drive away, you’ll find Swallow Falls State Park, known for its captivating waterfalls, including the mesmerizing Muddy Creek Falls. Further south, the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve beckons adventure seekers with its rugged landscapes and world-class rock climbing opportunities. For those fascinated by unique geological formations, the Natural Chimneys offers towering limestone chimneys formed over millions of years, creating a truly spectacular sight.
Nearby, Natural Bridge State Park boasts a stunning natural limestone bridge that’s nothing short of awe-inspiring. And if you’re yearning for the iconic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park offers panoramic vistas, winding hiking trails, and a chance to commune with the Appalachian wilderness. For botanical enthusiasts, the nearby Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden provides a lush escape into vibrant flowers and themed gardens, adding a splash of color and tranquility to your nature exploration. Each of these nearby locations promises a unique adventure, making West Virginia, a true paradise for nature enthusiasts.
Blackwater Falls State Park Parking Information
Blackwater Falls State Park is conveniently located in Tucker County, West Virginia, making it easily accessible for travelers from various directions. If you’re arriving by car, take Route 32 if you’re coming from the north or south, or Route 219 if you’re approaching from the east or west. The park is approximately 2 miles southwest of Davis, so keep an eye out for signage indicating the park entrance.
Upon entering the park, you’ll find ample parking options near the main attractions. For those visiting the iconic Blackwater Falls, there’s a parking lot near the trailhead to the falls, allowing for convenient access to the observation deck and staircase. If you’re camping in the park, designated parking areas are provided within the campgrounds for your convenience. Additionally, the lodge at Blackwater Falls State Park offers parking facilities for registered lodge and cabin guests. With well-marked parking areas throughout the park, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to begin your adventure.