Valley Falls, West Virginia

I haven’t posted any waterfalls in a while, even though I have visited a number since my last post. I’m done with work for the semester and have the next few months off to write about and visit waterfalls. This post is about a waterfall that I visited over a month ago, Valley Falls in West Virginia.

Some parts of West Virginia have more waterfalls because of certain geological features, but northern West Virginia doesn’t have nearly as many. A few do exist, though, and one of them is Valley Falls. This waterfall is found on the Tygart Valley River, which is a rather wide river that flows through West Virginia. The waterfall has its own state park, and when I visited, it was very peaceful, with only a few other people at the park. It was mid-April on a weekend, and it was pretty warm, but apparently people weren’t ready to get outdoors just yet!

There are a few drops that compose the waterfall, and each of them isn’t particularly tall. The one in the picture below might be a drop of about 5′ or so. What makes Valley Falls a bit more impressive is its width. The river is pretty wide, and when the falls are flowing, it would not be an easy task to cross the river.

I don’t know whether I would go out of my way to visit Valley Falls. There aren’t many other falls within a 30 or 40 mile radius, at least not considering driving distance. I did drive to Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania after this, but it was at least an hour drive there, if not more. If you’re near Morgantown, then I would consider taking a detour to visit.

Directions:
There are numerous ways to get to the falls, but the easiest path is as follows:

  1. From I-79 in West Virginia, take exit 137.
  2. Turn onto WV-310 heading southeast. Continue along this road for 7 miles.
  3. There will be a sign for Valley Falls State Park. Turn onto this road (which might be marked as 31/14) and drive 2 miles. The road you’re on will follow the perimeter of a lake, and then turn into Valley Falls Road.
  4. From the parking area, it’s a very short walk to the falls. There is no entrance fee.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 25′
Distance of Hike: negligible

Valley Falls in mid-April 2015

Where in the World is Valley Falls?

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?

Blackwater Falls, West Virginia

Blackwater Falls is the main attraction of Blackwater Falls State Park in northeast West Virginia. It is a 50+’ falls on the Blackwater River, and it is a very nice sight. Depending on the season, I think you will likely see a very different waterfall. There are pictures at very high flow when it is just one large, rushing waterfall. When I visited in late October, there were three separate pieces, which from most pictures seems to be rather normal.

It is rather simple to view the falls. The closer view of the falls comes from the “left” viewpoint. This viewpoint has numerous stairs that lead down to the falls. They’ve blocked it off at the end so that you don’t leave the boardwalk, and that might be a good idea. I think the area is steeper than it appears. There is another viewpoint on the opposite side of the river that is not nearly as close to the falls, but it is handicapped-accessible. This viewpoint is found on the “Gentle Trail.” From the Gentle Trail viewpoint, there are a number of other waterfalls you may be able to see, such as the set of Pendleton Run Falls.

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. To get to the closer viewpoint, follow the sign to the falls. To get to the other viewpoint, follow the sign to the lodge, where you will stop at the Gentle Trail.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 60′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Blackwater Falls in late October 2010

Where in the World is Blackwater Falls?