Which are the best hiking trails in America's newest national park? Deb Moses Lamey, president of Friends of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, is a consummate hiker who knows the trails that climb through the gorge and surrounding highlands.
With more than 40 designated hiking trails, the park in West Virginia is a major attraction for hikers. One of the best-known hiking trails in the U.S., the Endless Wall Trail, is located here, though it does not necessarily make Lamey's list.
Which hiking trails are her favorite? "There are far too many for me to rate them," Lamey said, "but if I have to choose, I think I could come up with my four favorites, though it will be a struggle."
Grandview Rim Trail
"I love Grandview Rim Trail. It has fabulous views the entire way of the river, beautiful places at both the beginning and the end, and it isn't overcrowded and loud," Lamey said.
Grandview has six miles of hiking trails, offering unsurpassed views of the deepest section of the gorge. Its trails range from easy to strenuous and can be hiked in their entirety or in various shorter segments.
The 1.6 miles (one-way) trail is moderately strenuous and is the longest at Grandview, connecting its Main Overlook with Turkey Spur. Along the way, hikers can enjoy many breathtaking views of the gorge and river more than 1,000 feet below.
Kaymoor Trail (North Section)
"The Kaymoor Trail from Fayette Station Road to its central section crosses Wolf Creek, a waterfall, and offers more great views along the way," Lamey said.
"About halfway along the trail, you have the old mine openings and great history on some waysides. It's a beautiful two-mile walk that isn't too strenuous, and it's really enjoyable. You can always make it harder by going down the 821 steps of the Kaymoor Miner's Trail to the bottom and back up."
The 8.6-mile (one-way) Kaymoor Trail is moderately strenuous and appropriate for hiking and biking. The northern two miles of the trail, from Wolf Creek trailhead to the old mine site, follows an old road. Wayside exhibits interpret the Kaymoor mine operation and community along the way.
The one-mile (one-way) Kaymoor Miner's Trail is strenuous and accommodates hiking only. It descends steeply from the top of the gorge with stairs and switchbacks to the Kaymoor coal mine site, where it crosses the Kaymoor Trail.
"I love the Bridge Trail, which is a super tough trail in both directions, but it has cool views from under the New River Gorge Bridge and on the way out," Lamey says.
Though less than a mile long, the Bridge Trail is strenuous. According to the National Park Service, it is occasionally steep and rocky and offers unrivaled views of the gorge and the landmark. The trail passes under the bridge and connects to the Fayetteville Trail.
Long Point Trail
"Finally, even though it's overused and way too crowded now, Long Point has to be a favorite with that remarkable view at the point. That vantage point for viewing the bridge and gorge is virtually unmatched," Lamey says.
The 1.6-mile (one-way) trail is moderately strenuous and is appropriate for hiking and biking, though the section of the trail near its end at the point is accessible for hikers only. A bike rack is provided for cyclists.
The Long Point Trail traverses fields and forest on the way to a rock outcrop known as Long Point, which provides panoramic views of the gorge and New River Gorge Bridge. Most of this trail descends slowly through the forest, but it does include one steep section just before hikers arrive at the point.
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