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Recommendations from Our Year of Hiking

December 17, 2015

Back in late 2014, we set a personal goal to hike at least one serious trail in the New River Gorge each month.

Here are the links to the blog post about our adventure:

A Year of Hiking, Part 1: January – April

A Year of Hiking, Part 2: May – August

A Year of Hiking, Part 3: September – December

One of the major lessons we learned during our year of hiking is that certain trails are better at certain times of the year. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the trails we hiked in 2015 and which month we would hike them if we had to do it over again:

Battle Run Mud

January – Craig’s Branch Trail – This trail offers views of The Endless Wall, Beauty Mountain and Nuttallburg, but only when the trees are leafless. The trail is wide and gradual so snow shouldn’t present too much of a problem.

February – Summersville Battle Run Trail – do this hike on a cold day when the ground is frozen. You will be able to walk right up to the sunken boats without too much trouble, not so if the temperature is above freezing and the sun is shining brightly like it was when we were there.

March – The Stone Cliff Trail should be delightful in early spring before the leaves and bugs are out. Being one of the few trails alongside the New River, you will be treated to long river views and far less underbrush to fight.

Keeney’s Creek

April – Keeney’s Creek Trail – April should have the best of both worlds deep in the Gorge: Fewer bugs and a good flow of water to make the Keeney’s Creek falls beautifully photogenic. Walk the loop counter-clockwise, starting along the road so you will be facing the waterfalls as you walk.

May – Ansted Rail Trail – Since the Hawk’s Nest tram opens for the season in May you can walk down the trail and then catch the tram up to the lodge. Make sure you watch for the trail to the old mine opening along the way: It’s worth the short side trip.

June – Butchers Branch Climbing Access – Don’t be fooled into thinking that this trail is just for climbers, this might be the prettiest trail in the Gorge. The flora should be in peak form in June and the waterfalls should still be flowing well before the heat of summer sets in.

Long Point Trail

July – Long Point Trail (Gorge) – Two great things about staying on the high parts of the Gorge in the heat of summer is catching a nice breeze and not having to fight off the many bugs that dwell down near the river. And frankly, the Long Point view is great any time of year.

August – Endless Wall Trail – A wonderful flat and shaded trail for the high heat days of late summer, oh and by the way, one of the best National Park hikes in America!

September – The Patterson Trail at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park offers several great views of The Gauley River, which means seeing lots of rafts and kayaks during Gauley Season.

October – The Skyline Trail at Babcock offers some of the best autumn leaf-peeping anywhere, and you can visit the iconic grist mill while you are there.

November – Summersville Long Point Trail – The view from the top of Long Point is awesome when the lake is at winter pool. Go on a nice sunny day and you will no doubt meet climbers along the way.

December – Rend Trail – If for no other reason than the views of Thurmond and the river will be much better with no leaves to contend with.

You can use this West Virginia Trail Inventory for locations and other helpful information, but we highly recommend Bryan Simon’s book, “Hiking and Biking in the New River Gorge.”

Happy hiking!

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