Having grown up in West Virginia, I hear a lot of smack talked about my home state. Rednecks. Hillbillies. Deliverance. Wrong Turn. You name it, I’ve heard it. But oh naysayers, if that’s all you think this state is, then you couldn’t be more wrong. There’s a reason the state’s slogan is Wild & Wonderful. So let me show you what hiking in Fayetteville, WV is like.
First, you should note, I’ve only ever been to Fayetteville, WV in the winter. In fact, for the past two years I’ve rented a cabin in this town to ring in the new year. So while there are summer activities galore, my experience is going to be a little bit more winter friendly – aka hiking in Fayetteville instead of say white water rafting.
But don’t let that dissuade you. Fayetteville has a lot to offer year round. The below is just a starting point. So come with a good pair of shoes and see what a weekend hiking in Fayetteville, WV is all about.
Long Point Trail
So I hiked this on New Years Eve. Not exactly what you would think. But, come to think of it, I’ve actually hiked this trail the last two New Year’s Eves in a row. And you’ll quickly see why.
The trail itself was located less than a 10 minute drive from the cabin, and so we piled into 2 cars and headed out. Both years, pulling into the parking lot, there have only been a spattering of other cars. I’m not sure if this is due to luck or the season, but we only passed a handful of people on the trail.
The trail starts off pretty flat heading away from the parking lot. You’ll go through (and over) some muddy fields before entering the forest proper.
One nice thing about the trail? It’s relatively level. And for most of the hike we were able to walk next to each other close enough to talk.
We chatted easily, trying to avoid the muddy parts of the trail. But I blazed ahead, both to get to the viewpoint all the sooner…and to stay warm. Because it was cold that day. Snow was still on the ground, and the temperature was dropping.
Living in the south these past years has changed me. Thinner blood my friends like to say, but maybe they’re right. That day I stayed just a little too cold for my liking.
So to try to stay warm, I powered through and tried not to think about it.
Nearing the end of the trail, we headed down through some rhododendron and out towards the point itself. As you near the lookout, the land started to drop away on both sides. We ducked over to the edge a few times, but continued on for the most part. After doing this trail the year before, I knew none of these views were a match for what awaited ahead.
Finally we reached the end of the point. And there it was. The pride of Fayetteville in my mind – the New River Gorge Bridge.
Now I have to say – this may be my favorite bridge in the world. State pride maybe? But regardless, it’s breathtaking. And all of our outings that weekend seemed to revolve around seeing it.
We lingered for a bit, taking way too many photos, climbing down on the rock just below the point, and simply sitting and watching. But, as mentioned above, it was cold and time to head back.
Distance: A little over 3 miles (roundtrip).
Location: Google Map
Endless Wall Hike
What’s even more surprising than hiking on New Years Eve? Hiking on New Years Day. And this year I did it. I’m not going to say that the previous year I was curled up on the couch, slightly moaning in pain for the entire day…but I’m not going to say I wasn’t.
But this New Years Day I had avoided that fate. And when the boys suggested a hike that afternoon out to the Endless Wall Trail, I was ready to go.
We parked at the Nuttall Trailhead (our only real mistake of the day). The trail itself zig zags through the forest before reaching the cliffside and pretty much sticking next to it for most of the way.
We reached the first turnoff of the trail and headed straight for the cliff. Stepping out onto the cliff edges was breathtaking. The trail winds along the northern cliffside that towers over the New River.
And, as we were hitting the trail just before sunset, seeing the golden light dance across the hillsides and cliff faces was miraculous.
This is one of the reasons I love West Virginia.
We continued on. Stopping often to take the spurs jutting towards the cliffside. Eventually we hit one of the “climbing access” signs, and one of the guys in our group told us that this was the first ladder on the trail.
Yes, ladder. At two different spots along the trail there are ladders that take you down the cliffside. Knowing that I don’t like ladders very much (but realizing I wanted to do it), I bravely stated that I was going first.
The ladder descended down between two rocks. It was quite tall (over 2 stories at least). I climbed quickly, not letting myself think too much. Then I crawled between the two rocks and approached the second ladder…and froze.
This one was at the end of a small grate. It was right up against the cliff face (instead of nestled between rocks). There were no sides to the ladder. And I’d have to back down it (no stepping onto it like I could with the top one).
I literally froze. I looked down the ladder. Descending at least 3 stories with no sides, it was a skinny ladder. I don’t have a picture of it either because, well, panic attack.
I don’t like ladders.
Trying to psych myself up, I told myself I could do it. But climbing down wasn’t going to be my problem. It was going to be climbing back up. Could I do it? That I wasn’t so sure about. And there’s no real other way back up. It’s a CLIFF FACE. There are no stairs.
So as one of the guys in our group passed me on the skinny grate, speaking low, soft words as if I was a spooked animal, I decided that I knew myself too well.
I was climbing back up.
And I did, I just went right back up to the top and said screw you bottom ladder. And that climb up was kind of hard and scary as it was. So in the end, I was glad I didn’t risk climbing down and getting stuck at the bottom of the cliff face.
So me and my best friend sat at the top and talked while the other three waltzed right down those ladders, explored, and came back up.
I wish I would have had the nerve. But I’m glad I knew myself enough to know better.
From there it was onto Diamond Point. The main viewpoint for the trail. This point has a 270 degree view of the valley. To one side, you could see up the east side of the valley, glimpsing the rapids below. To the other, the New River Gorge Bridge was just peeking through the trees.
It was also here that we saw the greatest concentration of people. And by that I mean like 2 groups of maybe 5 people each. It was a quiet day on the trail.
But as the sun was really starting to sink now, we continued on.
There was one last great viewpoint. This one with a clear view of the bridge (yep, I love that bridge), but I also was intrigued by the rock that looked like it had a face (though sadly I don’t have a good picture of it). It’s also here you can find the other ladder on the trail. I didn’t even attempt it, though three others in our group headed down.
Soon we diverged away from the cliff and started to make our way back to the lower parking lot – the Fern Creek parking lot. We emerged from the forest and then convinced the boys to hike back to the car.
It’s an uphill walk along the road from the Fern Creek lot to the Nuttall lot. A pretty steep uphill.
Don’t be like us. Park at the Fern Creek, do the whole trail and then walk back, downhill, along the road to the car. You’ll be much happier for it.
Roundtrip: 2.4 mile loop
Location: Google Map
So those are the two main trails in Fayetteville, WV. Or at least the two main ones we’ve tackled both years in a row. Maybe it’s our affinity for the New River Gorge Bridge? (Okay it’s probably 90% of the reason we did these trails again.) But regardless, these are two great trails. One an out and back. The other a loop. But both have amazing views.
If I was to pick just one to do… I would say the Endless Wall. Seeing the cliffs, the New River, and the Bridge all in one go? Definitely awesome.
Is there someplace you love that doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
Where to Stay.
My friends and I have rented a cabin both years for New Years Eve. And if you have enough people, this is definitely the way to go.
Here’s our favorite cabin:
Where to Eat.
The original Pies and Pints. No competition. Located in downtown Fayetteville.