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Endless Wall Trail: What You Really Need to Know

January 19, 2024

Filed in: New River Gorge

The breathtaking view from Diamond Point on the Endless Wall Trail.
Overlooking the New River from the Endless Wall Trail. Photo by Jared Musgrave.

Of all the New River Gorge National Park trails, The Endless Wall Trail has the most character and diversity. From the serenity of an ancient Hemlock forest to the pulse-quickening views from atop the cliffs overlooking the Gorge, it provides the casual hiker with a taste of everything that makes The New River Gorge National Park such a special place.

Voted “The Best National Park Hike” by USA Today readers, it is a trail you don’t want to miss when visiting the New River Gorge. But keep in mind, because of its excellent reputation, this trail is heavily used during the summer season. Consider hiking the Endless Wall Trail during the off-season or on weekdays during the summer. It’s always spectacular!

The New River Gorge Bridge in the distance with white snow covered cliffs of the Endless Wall Trail in the foreground. Green pine trees grow on top the cliffs.
The New River Gorge Bridge in winter. Photo by Shawn Means.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • This easy 2.4-mile hike (2.7 miles with the road return) usually takes a leisurely hiker about 1 ½ hours to complete, but you should allow extra time for sightseeing.
  • You can hike the Endless Wall Trail as a loop (beginning and ending at your car) but walking on the public road for about 1/4 mile is required to complete the loop.
  • Only park in designated spots. Cars parked illegally along the road are often towed.
  • The Endless Wall Trail is a great choice for a hike during every season. You really need to experience this beautiful area and the view it provides, in the spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
  • From the Diamond Point Overlook, you can face northwest, west, southwest, south, and southeast which makes this a nice place for sunrise and sunset photos. 
  • Plan a daybreak hike, if you can. The Gorge is at its most beautiful when the sun begins to penetrate the morning mist that gathers over the river.

Finding the Endless Wall Trailhead

The trail arcs between two trailheads located a half-mile apart along Lansing-Edmond Road, and most of its 2.7 miles run alongside the northern rim of the gorge. There are numerous spots where even non-adventurous hikers can stand atop the rocky cliffs and gaze at the New River 900 feet below.

The Fern Creek trailhead is a mile and a half from US Route 19 (the primary route for north-south travelers from Ontario, Canada to Florida) and is one of the closest trails to the New River Gorge Bridge. Its convenient location means it gets a lot of visitors during peak travel season.

If you find the Fern Creek trailhead parking lot full, continue driving to the Nuttall Trailhead and either walk the trail from that end or make the road hike back to Fern Creek (resist the temptation to park along the road if the lot is full because local police will ticket and tow). Additional parking will be added when the National Park designation is complete.

Looking back on the New River from the Endless Wall.
Sunset on the Endless Wall. Photo by Jared Musgrave.

The Terrain of the Endless Wall Trail

Beginning at the Fern Creek trailhead, the trail takes a leisurely and mostly level path through an Eastern Hemlock forest that is as enchanting as any woods you will ever see. It’s always tempting — when you first get on a trail – to hurry up and put some miles behind you, but you will want to take your time here to soak in the beauty of the forest. You can try to get a glimpse of the multitudes of birds that you hear high up in the canopy or just appreciate the amazing diversity of plants and fungi along the trail.

As the Hemlocks begin to thin out and mix with deciduous trees, the trail descends slightly to cross Fern Creek. At the footbridge (about ½ mile along the trail) take a few minutes to sit and listen to Fern Creek and pay attention to where it flows. Just around the bend, less than 100 yards from the bridge, the creek drops through a cleft in the Nuttall Sandstone and becomes Fern Creek Falls. While the falls aren’t visible from above, an unmarked but well-worn trail on the right side of the stream will take the adventurous hiker through a Rhododendron thicket to the very edge of the cliff where the thundering of the falls below can be heard. Check out the Long Point Trail to catch a glimpse of the Fern Creek Falls from the other side of the Gorge.

Rhodo Tunnels and Climber’s Ladders

After the trail crosses Fern Creek, it begins a mild climb back through the Rhododendron maximum, whose blooms are West Virginia’s official state flower (they usually bloom in June) and whose evergreen leaves make up the garland that adorns much of the New River Gorge. Called “rhodo” by rock climbers who have to contend with it to access their favorite climbing spots, it often obscures the view of the foot-traveler and sometimes forms tunnels that seem like passageways to some enchanted land.

Once the trail has reached the elevation of the Gorge’s rim, there are several side paths that lead through the rhodo to the precipice. A couple of these paths end at permanent metal ladders installed by rock climbers to allow them to access the trail that runs below the cliffs from which they launch their ascents. If you have the time and ability, climb down and take a look around.

The Appalachian Mountains in the New River Gorge along the Endless Wall cliffs. With fall leaves (red, yellow, orange) on the trees above and the dark, winding river below.
One of the many views from the Endless Wall Trail. Photo by Shawn Means.

The View from Diamond Point is Priceless

About 1 mile from the Fern Creek parking area (1.2 miles from Nuttall) is a short trail that leads to Diamond Point (the intersection is marked with a sign). The view from Diamond Point is not to be missed: From this one spot, you can see more than a mile upstream and downstream. The New River Gorge Bridge is partially visible as are the former sites of the Kaymoor Coal Mine and Nuttallburg Coal Mining Complex.

You can hear the rumbling of trains passing through the Gorge and the joyful squeals of rafters on the rapids below. Here, you will understand why the trail is called The Endless Wall, as you see the high wall of Nuttall Sandstone stretching into the distance and disappearing around the bend in both directions. If you look closely you may see rock climbers scaling the cliffs on one of the hundreds of established climbing routes.

Fayetteville Food Guide. Where to eat and drink in the New River Gorge. Restaurants, pubs and grocery stores included.

Tips for enjoying The Endless Wall Trail:

  • From late spring through early fall, the Fern Creek drainage is home to lots of very interesting mushrooms. Take your time and look around. You will be amazed by the variety.
  • Don’t turn back too soon and miss Diamond Point! Many hikers get to one of the lesser overlooks and think they have found it. Remember, the short trail that leads to Diamond Point is well-marked, so don’t miss it.
  • Be aware of your children and their proximity to the edge of the cliffs. This is for their safety as well as the safety of climbers below who could be hit by falling debris that is carelessly kicked loose. Don’t allow your children to throw anything over the edge; you never know when there might be people on the rock or on climbing access trails below.
On the edge of the New River Gorge! The Diamond Point overlook on the Endless Wall Trail.
View of the New River Gorge Bridge from Diamond Point on Endless Wall Trail. Photo by Jared Musgrave.

Fuel Your Endless Wall Adventure

You are going to need fuel for your adventure and boy oh boy, Fayetteville’s superb restaurants provide some delicious fuel. Get our Fayetteville Food Guide so you can pick the perfect place for your palate. We’ve compiled all the local restaurants’ info into a one-page flier that includes location, contact info, hours of operation, special diet offerings, alcohol availability, and more!

Who are we? Amy & Shawn, New River Gorge hikers, WV Master Naturalists, and owners of Lafayette Flats Boutique Vacation Rentals in downtown Fayetteville, WV in the heart of the New River Gorge National Park.

Craving more data for your New River Gorge getaway? Learn more about enjoying nature in the New River Gorge and the small-town charm of Fayetteville.

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