Blackwater Falls State Park | Discovering West Virginia’s Hidden Vacation Destination

Are you looking for a hidden gem to explore on your next vacation? Look no further than Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. Tucked away in the Allegheny Mountains, this breathtaking state park offers a unique combination of natural beauty and outdoor adventure that will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.

Nestled in the heart of Tucker County, West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park is a natural wonderland waiting to be explored in the United States. The park is named after the stunning Blackwater Falls, which cascade 60 feet into a gorge below, creating a breathtaking sight that has been attracting visitors for generations. The name Blackwater Falls came after Tannic-amber water and the falls are just one of the many natural wonders that make this park so special. The fall gets frozen completely in the winter season.

Top 10 places to visit in Blackwater Falls State Park

There are many attractions to visit in Blackwater Falls State Park.

Blackwater Falls

view of Blackwater Fall at Blackwater Falls State Park

The park’s namesake waterfall is a must-see attraction. You can view the falls from various wooden overlooks and hiking trails. There is a short trail including a wooden path to reach the fall from the park’s parking area. The waterfall is the centerpiece of the park and is one of the most photographed natural attractions in the state. It drops approximately 60 feet into a rugged gorge, creating a dramatic and picturesque scene to be captured in your camera.

The falls are formed by the Blackwater River, which flows through the park and is known for its dark, tannin-stained waters. The tannins come from the decaying leaves and other organic matter in the forested areas surrounding the river, giving it a distinct reddish-brown color.

Lindy Point Overlook

Lindy Point is a popular overlook located within Blackwater Falls State Park. It offers a scenic viewpoint for visitors for a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and Blackwater Canyon, making it one of the most photographed locations in the park.

The viewpoint is named after Lindy S. Lanham, a former park superintendent who played a significant role in the development of Blackwater Falls State Park. The point is accessible via a short hike along a well-marked trail.

From the overlook, you can see the rugged terrain of the Allegheny Mountains, the dark, tannin-stained waters of the Blackwater River, and the deep gorge carved by the river over millions of years. The view is particularly stunning during the fall months when the foliage of the surrounding forest is ablaze with color.

Elakala Falls

black colour water in Blackwater Falls State Park

Elakala Falls is a series of waterfalls located within Blackwater Falls State Park formed by Shays Run, a tributary of the Blackwater River, and are named after an American Indian legend about a princess who falls in love with a brave from a rival tribe.

There are four main waterfalls within the Elakala Falls series, each offering a unique and picturesque view of the cascading waters. The falls range in height from 10 to 35 feet and are set amidst a forested landscape of rhododendron and hemlock trees.

You can access the falls via a short hike from the park’s main overlooks. The trail is well-marked and offers several viewpoints along the way. During the winter months, the falls often freeze over, creating a stunning and surreal ice sculpture that is a must-see.

The Pendleton Point Trail

For nature and hiking lovers The Pendleton Point Trail is a scenic hiking trail located within the park that offers you a unique perspective on Blackwater Canyon, as well as stunning views of Pendleton Point, a rocky outcrop that juts out into the canyon.

The trail is approximately 0.6 miles long and is considered moderate in difficulty, with several steep sections and switchbacks along the way. However, the trail is well-marked and offers several viewpoints and resting spots along the way. The trail ends at Pendleton Point, where you can take stunning panoramic pictures of the canyon and surrounding mountains.

In the winter months, the trail can be icy and slippery, so you are advised to use caution and wear appropriate footwear.

The Allegheny Trail

The Allegheny Trail in Blackwater Falls State park

The Allegheny Trail is a long-distance hiking trail that spans over 330 miles from the northern panhandle of West Virginia to the southern border of Virginia. A portion of the trail that is approximately 19 miles long runs through Blackwater Falls State Park, making it a popular destination for hikers and offering a challenging yet rewarding hiking experience. The trail winds through rugged terrain, including deep forests, rocky ridges, and steep valleys. The trail is well-marked and offers several campsites and shelters for overnight hikers.

The Blackwater Canyon Trail

The Blackwater Canyon Trail is a scenic hiking and biking trail that follows the path of the Blackwater River through the heart of Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. The trail is approximately 10 miles long and offers you a unique perspective on the park’s natural beauty and the rugged terrain of the surrounding Allegheny Mountains. Along the way, you will encounter several small waterfalls, as well as a variety of plant and animal species that call the canyon home.

The trail is relatively flat and is suitable for hikers and bikers of all skill levels. But for those looking for a more challenging experience, several side trails lead up to the surrounding ridges, offering stunning views of the canyon below. These trails are more steep and rugged but offer a unique perspective on the park’s natural beauty.

The Plantation Trail

The Plantation Trail is a scenic hiking trail located within Blackwater Falls and this 2.5-mile trail winds through a beautiful forested landscape, offering you the opportunity to connect with nature and experience the beauty of the park’s flora and fauna.

The trail is named after the historic Plantation that once stood near its starting point. Along the way, you will encounter several historic sites, including the foundation of the Plantation’s main house, as well as a variety of plant and animal species that call the park home. The trail is relatively easy and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.

The Park Road

The Park Road is a scenic drive that winds through the heart of Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. This 10-mile road offers you the opportunity to experience the park’s natural beauty and stunning landscapes with forests, rivers, and canyons from the comfort of your own vehicle.

One of the highlights of Park Road is the overlook at Blackwater Falls offering you a panoramic view of the 60-foot waterfall as it cascades over the dark rocks below. Another popular destination along Park Road is the Canaan Valley Overlook. This overlook offers you a stunning view of the Canaan Valley, one of the largest wetland areas in the Appalachian Mountains.

The Nature Center

The Nature Center is a popular attraction with educational facilities offering you the opportunity to learn about the park’s natural history and ecology through a variety of interactive exhibits and displays. The Nature Center is home to several live animals, including snakes, turtles, and frogs, as well as a variety of mounted specimens and educational displays.

In addition to the exhibits, the Nature Center also offers a variety of educational programs and activities throughout the year, including guided hikes, nature walks, and children’s programs. These programs are led by experienced naturalists and provide visitors with an in-depth look at the park’s natural history and ecology.

Another highlight of the Nature Center is the bird-watching area, which offers you the opportunity to observe a variety of bird species in their natural habitat. The area is equipped with binoculars and spotting scopes, as well as a variety of educational materials to help to identify the birds you see.

The Campgrounds

The Campgrounds at Blackwater Falls State Park offer you the opportunity to experience the park’s natural beauty up close and to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in a serene and peaceful environment. There are two campgrounds within the park, each offering a unique camping experience.

The first campground is the Pendleton Lake Campground, which is located on the shores of Pendleton Lake with a total of 39 campsites, each equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and access to nearby restrooms and shower facilities.

The second campground is the Blackwater Falls Campground, which is located near the park’s main attractions, including the Blackwater Falls overlook and the Nature Center. This campground offers a total of 65 campsites, each equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and access to nearby restrooms and shower facilities.

The campgrounds are open year-round, with reservations available from April through October. You are advised to make reservations in advance, as it can fill up quickly during peak season.

Must explore in the USA

Top 5 accommodations in Blackwater Falls State Park

While Blackwater Falls State Park is known for its rustic and natural beauty, it also offers various options for accommodations. Here are the top 5 stays in Blackwater Falls State Park.

The Lodge at Blackwater Falls

This grand lodge offers visitors 54 guest rooms, each equipped with modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, high-speed internet, and plush bedding. The lodge also features a restaurant, lounge, and gift shop, as well as access to the park’s many outdoor activities.

Blackwater Falls State Park Cabins

For visitors looking for more private and secluded accommodation, the state park cabins offer a luxurious and rustic option. These cabins come equipped with all the modern amenities, including kitchens, bathrooms, and comfortable bedding, as well as access to the park’s outdoor activities.

Canaan Valley Resort

Located just a short drive from Blackwater Falls State Park, the Canaan Valley Resort offers visitors a luxurious mountain retreat. The resort features a variety of accommodations, including guest rooms, suites, and vacation homes, all equipped with modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, high-speed internet, and plush bedding. The resort also features a spa, fitness center, and several dining options.

The Thomas Shepherd Inn

This elegant bed and breakfast is located in nearby Shepherdstown and offers visitors luxurious and comfortable accommodations. The inn features beautifully appointed guest rooms, each equipped with comfortable bedding and modern amenities, as well as access to the charming town of Shepherdstown.

The Country Inn at Berkeley Springs

Another nearby accommodation option, the Country Inn at Berkeley Springs offers visitors luxurious guest rooms, each equipped with plush bedding, flat-screen TVs, and high-speed internet. The inn also features a spa, fitness center, and several dining options, as well as access to the charming town of Berkeley Springs.

Top 5 restaurants in Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park offers you a variety of dining options to fuel up after exploring the park. Here are some of the best restaurants in Blackwater Falls State Park.

Smokehouse at Blackwater Falls

This casual dining restaurant offers you a variety of smoked meats and homemade sides. The restaurant features a cozy and rustic atmosphere, perfect for a post-hike meal.

Sawmill Restaurant

Located in nearby Davis, West Virginia, the Sawmill Restaurant offers you a variety of comfort foods, including burgers, sandwiches, and homemade soups. The restaurant features a cozy atmosphere and friendly staff.

The Forks Restaurant

This family-friendly restaurant, located in nearby Elkins, West Virginia, offers you a variety of dishes, including seafood, pasta, and steak. The restaurant features a casual atmosphere and a full bar.

Hellbender’s Burritos

This small restaurant, located in Davis, West Virginia, offers you a variety of burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, all made with fresh and local ingredients. The restaurant features a casual and laid-back atmosphere.

Sirianni’s Cafe

Located in nearby Davis, West Virginia, Sirianni’s Cafe offers you a variety of Italian-inspired dishes, including pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. The restaurant features a cozy and inviting atmosphere and a full bar.

Activities to do in Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park is a natural wonderland, offering lots of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Hiking

With over 20 miles of hiking trails, you can explore the park’s natural beauty on foot. Popular trails include the Blackwater Canyon Trail, Lindy Point Trail, and Elakala Trail.

Waterfalls

Blackwater Falls State Park is named after its stunning 60-foot waterfall, but the park also offers a variety of other waterfalls to explore, including Elakala Falls and Pendleton Falls.

Mountain Biking

The park features a variety of mountain biking trails, including the 12-mile Blackwater Canyon Trail, which offers stunning views of the park’s natural beauty.

Fishing

You can enjoy some of the best trout fishing in the state in the park’s many streams and rivers. Pendleton Lake is one of the popular spots for fishing in the park.

Swimming

The park’s outdoor swimming pool is open during the summer months and offers a refreshing way to cool off on a hot day.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

During the winter months, you can explore the park’s snow-covered landscape on cross-country skis or snowshoes and many other snow activities.

Wildlife viewing

The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, and red foxes, making it a great place for wildlife viewing and photography.

Picnicking

The park features several picnic areas, perfect for enjoying a meal with family and friends surrounded by the park’s natural beauty.

How to reach Blackwater Falls State Park

After deciding on Blackwater Falls State Park as your next vacation destination this year, you can get here by various modes of transportation.

By Car

The best and most convenient way to reach the park is by car and you can take several routes to get the park. The closest major city is Washington D.C., which is approximately a three-hour drive away. You can take Interstate 81 or Interstate 79 to reach the park.

By Air

The closest major airport to Blackwater Falls State Park is Washington Dulles International Airport, which is located approximately 130 miles away. You can rent a car or take a shuttle service to reach the park after arriving at the airport.

By Train

Amtrak provides train service to several cities in West Virginia, including Elkins, which is located approximately 15 miles away from the park. You can rent a car or take a taxi to reach the park from the train station.

By Bus

Greyhound provides bus service to several cities in West Virginia, including Elkins, which is located approximately 15 miles away from the park. You can rent a car or take a taxi to reach the park from the bus station.

Once visitors reach the park, they can explore the park’s natural beauty on foot, by bike, or by car. The park also offers several parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles.

FAQs about Blackwater Falls State Park

  1. What is the best time of year to visit Blackwater Falls State Park?

    The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit depends on the activities you plan to do. Summer is the busiest time and offers warm weather for swimming and other outdoor activities. But if you love snow activities like skiing and snowshoeing, the winter season is best for you while Fall offers breathtaking foliage.

  2. Are pets allowed in Blackwater Falls State Park?

    Yes, pets are allowed in designated areas of the park, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.

  3. Is camping allowed in the park?

    Yes, Blackwater Falls State Park offers several campgrounds, including traditional tent camping sites and RV sites with hookups. Camping is very popular here to enjoy nature at its best.

  4. Are there any entrance fees for the park?

    Yes, there is a small entrance fee to enter the park. Fees vary depending on the time of year and the activities you plan to do.

  5. What are the most popular attractions in the park?

    The most popular attractions in the park include Blackwater Falls, Lindy Point, Elakala Falls, and the Blackwater Canyon Trail.

  6. Is there lodging available in the park?

    Yes, the park offers several lodging options, including cabins, cottages, and lodges. There are also several options for luxury accommodations outside of the park.

  7. Are there any guided tours available in Blackwater Falls State Park?

    Yes, the park offers several guided tours, including nature walks, birdwatching tours, and historical tours.

  8. Can I rent equipment for outdoor activities?

    Yes, you can rent equipment for activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain biking at the park’s rental facilities.

  9. Is there Wi-Fi available in the park?

    Yes, Wi-Fi is available at several locations throughout the park, including the lodges and visitor center.

  10. Are there any dining options in the park?

    Yes, the park offers several dining options, including a restaurant, snack bar, and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy.

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