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Our 10 Favorite Off-the-Beaten-Path Spots in New River Gorge

May 3, 2024

We’re celebrating 10 years of hosting nature and art lovers from all over the world! Who are we? Amy & Shawn, New River Gorge hikers, Master Naturalists, and owners of Lafayette Flats Boutique Vacation Rentals in downtown Fayetteville, WV – the heart of New River Gorge National Park.

Shawn standing between two large boulders at Needleseye Park in Oak Hill, WV.
Shawn in the needle’s eye.

Needleseye Park

The rock formations at Needleseye Park in Oak Hill, WV are unusual, and we love unusual! Round holes left behind from “kettle bottom rocks” can be seen throughout the formations (you’ll know what they are when you seen them). The city is still finding its footing with the design and maintenance of the park, but there is now a map in the parking area and clear trails to the rock formations.

Old green and blue glass pieces and broken pottery resting on green moss in the forest where the Seldom Seen Community used to exist.
Remnants of the Seldom Seen Community.

Seldom Seen

We jokingly call Seldom Seen the ghost suburb of Nuttallburg. It was, in fact, where a small group of folks lived back in the early 1900s when Nuttallburg proper was a productive coal complex and community. As you walk the short trail to Seldom Seen, you will notice pieces of pottery, glass and porcelain hiding on the forest floor. These and the stone foundations are all that remain of the community.

A black and while historic photo of soldiers standing on a bridge that is floating on rafts in the New River.
Soldiers learning to assemble floatation bridges on the New River. Photo: NPS

Army Camp

There is a New River Gorge National Park campground at Army Camp, near Prince, WV, but we like to visit just for the up close view of the New River – you can walk right in. From 1950-1957, the Army used the area to train soldiers to quickly assemble floating bridges. We use it to soak relax and soak our tired feet in the cool river. But watch out! We’ve seen many little water snakes in the area!

Six large, concrete piers rising up from the New River with trees in the foreground.
The bridge piers that remain in the New River by the old town of Hamlet.

Hamlet

Just off the Glade Creek Trailhead, where the creek flows into the New River, are the remains of the old logging town of Hamlet. Visiting Hamlet, and thinking about how the New River Gorge was almost completely clear-cut around the turn of the 20th century, makes us appreciate the regenerative power of nature and the National Park Service for protecting this important place.

Gravestones on Red Ash Island along the Southside Trail in the New River Gorge National Park. It's winter - the trees are leafless and the sky is gray.
Old gravestones on Red Ash Island.

Red Ash Island

Several miles into the Southside Trail, if the river level is just right and you look closely, you’ll find Red Ash Island. Once a mining community, this pseudo-island became a quarantine site for infected people during a smallpox epidemic in the 1890s. Gravestones of the people who died during the smallpox outbreak, along with victims from multiple mine disasters, can still be found on the island today.

An old, two-story white farmhouse with a picket fence around it. The sky is blue, the lawn is green but the trees are still leafless at the Trump-Lilly Farm.
The old farmhouse at Trump-Lilly Farm.

Trump-Lilly Farm

This peaceful old subsistence farm sits high on Freezeland Mountain near Sandstone Falls and the Town of Hinton. Trump-Lilly Farm is one of our favorite places to visit in the early fall when the field of goldenrod and purple ironweed are blooming. You too can walk around the property looking at the old farmhouse, barn, spring house, and more. It’s relaxing, beautiful and always quiet.

A big, blue lake surrounded by green trees on a bright summer day at Little Beaver State Park.
Little Beaver State Park. Photo: WV State Parks

Little Beaver State Park

Near the Grandview section of New River Gorge National Park sits a small WV State Park that we like to visit from time to time in the summer when the National Park is super busy. Little Beaver State Park has a lovely lake and several beautiful trails. We recommend packing a picnic lunch and hiking the Rhododendron Run Trail. It’s gorgeous!

A bald eagle sitting proudly on the arm of a handler from Three Rivers Avian Center.
An injured but healthy Bald Eagle. Photo: Three Rivers Avian Center

Three Rivers Avian Center

We never miss a chance to see the beautiful native birds that the good folks at Three Rivers Avian Center take to events around the state. The touring birds are animals too injured to return to the wild, but make no mistake, many of Three Rivers’ “patients” return to the forest. Three Rivers Avian Center sits high on Brooks Mountain near Hinton, WV. The facility offers free public tours on the first Saturday of each month from May – October from 1:00-5:00.

Amy sitting inside a small pavilion at the top of the Island in the Sky Trail at Babcock State Park.
Amy in the CCC-built pavilion on Island-in-the-Sky Trail at Babcock State Park.

Island-in-the-Sky

While everyone else is gawking at the beautiful grist mill at Babcock State Park, we are usually high above the creek in a cute little CCC-built shelter gawking at the incredible view of the park. The Island-in-the-Sky Trail at Babcock State Park is short and has two trailheads. One that required a steep climb and one that offered a smooth incline. Both lead to beauty!

White water rolling down the New River  framed by pink phlox flowers on the shore.
The New River from the Brookside Trail.

Brookside Trail

Back in the mid-1900s, Camp Brookside was a residential summer camp for the children of employees at a nearby factory. The National Park Service took it over many years ago. The camp itself is usually closed to the public but there is a short, marked trail that runs between the camp and the river. This trail takes your through a rare flat rock community and deserves every visitors gentle care and respect.

New River Gorge Eco Tours. Nature-focused guided forest walks in the New River Gorge National Park.

Craving more data for your New River Gorge exploration? Read “Our 10 Favorite New River Gorge Curiosities” and “Our 10 Favorite New River Gorge Micro-Seasons.

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Fayetteville, WV 25840
(304) 900-3301