Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three kid-friendly hikes in West Virginia to explore with babies and young children.
Centrally located in the Eastern United States, West Virginia possesses the highest mean altitude east of the Mississippi River. There is an abundance of scenic vistas and challenging terrain in what may be the epicenter of East Coast adventure sports. These include renowned whitewater rafting, world-class rock climbing, and unspoiled wilderness areas for hiking and backpacking. This is an outdoor paradise for families looking to disconnect and enjoy the best that “The Mountain State” has to offer.
Long Point Trail, New River Gorge National River (Fayetteville, WV)
Part of the National Park System, Long Point Trail is a 3.2-mile out-and-back trail within the New River National River that offers one of the most scenic views in all of West Virginia. Located just outside of town, this moderate level trail is ideal. It begins from a gravel parking lot, and the bulk of the trail is wide enough to accommodate off-road strollers. Near the end of the trail, the wide and relatively flat trail will give way to a steeper, single-track trail that will have you walking through thick rhododendrons before arriving at Long Point.
- During the summer and on weekends, the parking lot can sometimes be full. However, if a spot is open, the trail is long enough that it will not be congested. There are several intersections along the trail, and the path to Long Point is clearly marked.
- Don’t forget to take a camera and capture images of the New River Gorge Bridge as a backdrop.
- Consider packing a lunch or snacks to enjoy at the scenic vista.
Endless Wall Trail, New River Gorge National River (Lansing, WV)
Endless Wall Trail can be treated as an out-and-back or longer loop trail. The trail is relatively flat with minimal elevation gain out to Diamond Point. From the Fern Creek Trailhead, it is one mile to Diamond Point. The area is popular with climbers as the trailhead provides direct access to some of the best rock climbing in the region.
- If you prefer not to backtrack, you can continue on the Endless Wall Trail. The loop is approximately 2.9 miles roundtrip. The actual trail is 2.4 miles. Depending on whether you park at the Nuttall Trailhead or Fern Creek Trailhead, you will have to walk 0.5 miles along the road back to your car.
- During the late spring, summer and early fall, look for rafters on the New River from your lofty perch. Rock climbers are sometimes visible as this is a year-round destination for experienced climbers.
Bald Knob Trail, Canaan Valley State Park (Davis, WV)
Starting at the Canaan Valley Resort State Park ski area, you can either hike up to Bald Knob or relax and take in some views on the ski lift for a fee of $5 per person. From the top of the lift, head into the woods following the Bald Knob Trail. The hike is 1.25 miles up a mountain to Bald Knob, a mountaintop clearing with granite outcroppings and stellar views of Canaan Valley. Near the summit is a patch of wild blueberries that ripen around late July and make the perfect motivation to get children up those last hundred yards. But with wild berries, this means that this area is also home to black bears. Although when the trail is heavily trafficked, they keep their distance, it’s a good idea to be aware. When you’re ready to leave, taking the ski lift down offers even better views, or you can opt to hike back down (note the time the ski lift closes).
- The tall grassy area is prime real estate for ticks, so bring bug spray and perform tick checks. There is also poison ivy along portions of the trail, so watch for those.
- There isn’t much shade at the top, but Baldy Grove, just a short walk to the right, has plenty of shade and a small sitting shelter.
- If making a weekend of this area, stop by the Purple Fiddle in Thomas for a bite to eat, ice cream and live music.
I take my son with his grandparents, and we do the same hike every year. It’s such a special place for my family and comes with a spectacular view. Hopefully my son skips the temper tantrum/hating hiking phase! I love the hike because ski lifts are exciting and relaxing and beautiful, and climbing mountains is fun! –Elizabeth Knapp
MORE RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
West Virginia offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- West Virginia State Parks
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
If you’re traveling through West Virginia and need more information or recommendations on trails or would like to join a group hike, the nearest Hike it Baby branches are in Morgantown and Harper’s Ferry.
- 3 Great Trails for Young Kids in Pennsylvania
- 3 Beautiful Hikes in Ohio for Young Children
- 3 Scenic North Carolina Trails for Families With Young Children
What are your favorite hikes in West Virginia for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!
Trail reviews and photos (unless otherwise indicated) provided by Clay Abney and Elizabeth Knapp.