Elakala Falls #1, West Virginia

The first drop on Shay’s Run in October 2010

There are four significant drop on Shays Run that make up the whole of Elakala Falls. As I read up on the falls, I got the sense that it was more difficult to view the falls than people imagined.

Let me say that visiting the first falls is nowhere near as difficult as it seems. From the trail head, you can very easily get to the bridge above the falls. To get a better view of the falls, you will have to head downhill a bit, but it’s not too bad. You’ll be rewarded with a really gentle but beautiful waterfall. I admit, to see the other 2 “easy to visit” falls downstream does require some effort, but it’s not nearly as impossible as people indicate.

Directions:

  1. Head toward Davis/Thomas, WV on WV-32. Once in either town, you should see signs for Blackwater Falls State Park. Follow the signs!
  2. Instead of heading toward Blackwater Falls proper, head toward the Blackwater Lodge.
  3. Park in the parking area for Blackwater Lodge near the left edge of the lodge (if you’re viewing it from the front). If you walk just a few feet from the parking lot, you should find the trail leading to the falls.
  4. After a short distance, you will find a bridge crossing Shays Run, and you’ll be able to see the first falls. Cross the bridge. It is much less complicated to hike down that side of the river, as there is a clearer trail there.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 10′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Elakala Falls #1?

Elakala Falls #3, West Virginia

The third drop on Shay’s River in October 2010

I was really excited to be able to see the third falls on Shays Run. Sometimes when I read descriptions of waterfalls, I get these impressions that the waterfalls are extremely difficult to get to. And I’m always impressed when their relatively easier to visit than I expected.

When I begin to think about it more, they end up becoming some of my favorite waterfalls, and I think this one might rank up there somewhere. While it’s not tall and doesn’t have a huge amount of water flowing over it, it is VERY scenic and photogenic. I had so much fun getting the different shots of the falls. There is another side view of the falls that provides an equally interesting, and yet completely different perspective.

Directions:

  1. Head toward Davis/Thomas, WV on WV-32. Once in either town, you should see signs for Blackwater Falls State Park. Follow the signs!
  2. Instead of heading toward Blackwater Falls proper, head toward the Blackwater Lodge.
  3. Park in the parking area for Blackwater Lodge near the left edge of the lodge (if you’re viewing it from the front). If you walk just a few feet from the parking lot, you should find the trail leading to the falls.
  4. After a short distance, you will find a bridge crossing Shays Run, and you’ll be able to see the first falls. Cross the bridge. It is much less complicated to hike down that side of the river, as there is a clearer trail there.
  5. Heading downhill, you should be able to get a good view of the first falls after a short distance. Keep heading downhill on what appears to be a somewhat well worn trail to see the 2nd and 3rd falls. Bug spray and hiking shoes are essential.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Elakala Falls #3?

Falls Run Falls, West Virginia

Falls Run Falls in October 2010

Falls Run Falls is one of the more interesting little waterfalls in Blackwater Falls State Park. It’s nowhere near as widely known as Blackwater Falls, Elakala Falls, or some of the other large falls in the area. Falls Run Falls, on the other hand, is small, easy to get to, but hidden where you’d least expect it.

Right from a parking area that provides a view of Blackwater Falls, a short hike leads to running water. You don’t really see anything from the road, but heading downhill leads to this smaller waterfall. I imagine that after a lot of rainfall, it’s impressive. Even with less water, it’s still a nice falls. There was enough water that it didn’t look like wet rock.

Directions:

  1. Head toward Davis/Thomas, WV on WV-32. Once in either town, you should see signs for Blackwater Falls State Park. Follow the signs!
  2. Instead of heading toward Blackwater Falls proper, head toward the Blackwater Lodge.
  3. On your way to the Lodge, there is a parking area at a trail head known as the Gentle Trail. Park here. If you head right from the parking area, you’ll get to a view of Blackwater Falls. Instead, head left.
  4. You’ll hike near the road for a few hundred feet or so…Pay attention to the sound of water flowing, as that will be your indicator you’re nearby. When you hear the flowing water, you may see a creek. Cross the creek, and then start heading downhill. From there, it’s only a short distance to the falls.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate, a little steep, but short)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Falls Run Falls?

Elakala Falls #2, West Virginia

The 2nd Elakala Falls in October 2010

The description of Elakala Falls is again deceiving…well, depending on who you are. There are actually 4 “major” drops on Shays Run. Various explanations of the hike to the falls made me wonder whether I would be able to handle seeing the falls. Sources suggested that the hike was difficult.

Well, the hike to Falls #1 is pretty easy. I admit that the hike to falls #2 and #3 is not “easy”, but I wouldn’t call it difficult either. Likely due to higher traffic, there is now a pretty clear trail that passes by those two waterfalls. It is steep at points, but it’s very redeeming quality is that the whole hike is pretty short. I wouldn’t suggest doing the hike in slippery tennis shoes. Hiking shoes will work better because of the steepness. Still, I don’t remember it being a difficult hike.

One thing to note…I did NOT attempt to go to the 4th falls. I say it wasn’t difficult to visit the first three falls, but there was absolutely no clear way to hike down view the 4th falls, so I decided against trying to view it.

Directions:

  1. Head toward Davis/Thomas, WV on WV-32. Once in either town, you should see signs for Blackwater Falls State Park. Follow the signs!
  2. Instead of heading toward Blackwater Falls proper, head toward the Blackwater Lodge.
  3. Park in the parking area for Blackwater Lodge near the left edge of the lodge (if you’re viewing it from the front). If you walk just a few feet from the parking lot, you should find the trail leading to the falls.
  4. After a short distance, you will find a bridge crossing Shays Run, and you’ll be able to see the first falls. Cross the bridge. It is much less complicated to hike down that side of the river, as there is a clearer trail there.
  5. Heading downhill, you should be able to get a good view of the first falls after a short distance. Keep heading downhill on what appears to be a somewhat well worn trail to see the 2nd and 3rd falls. Bug spray and hiking shoes are essential.

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Height: 10′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Elakala Falls #2?