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Waterfalls Of New River Gorge


With the improve from nationwide river to nationwide park standing, West Virginia’s New River Gorge Nationwide Park and Protect has generated an excessive amount of pleasure, each right here in West Virginia and throughout the nation. Whereas a lot of the information I’ve seen focuses on the enduring New River Gorge Bridge, the various out of doors journey alternatives and the historic worth of the Gorge, I’m going to spotlight a choice of the various waterfalls inside and close to the park that draw photographers 12 months after 12 months.

Image of Sandstone Falls in New River Gorge

Sandstone Falls

The New River Gorge area is dwelling to nicely over 100 waterfalls, with lots of them nestled within the park’s boundaries. In my books on the topic, the Gorge was damaged up into three sections: Higher, Central and Decrease. I’ll observe swimsuit right here, beginning within the Higher New River Gorge with what I contemplate the “crown jewel” of New River Gorge waterfalls.

Higher New River Gorge

Sandstone Falls

Sandstone Falls marks the transition zone of the New River from a large river of huge bottomlands to a slim, rugged river raging by means of a deep boulder-strewn gorge. Sandstone Falls is definitely one in all my favourite waterfalls in West Virginia and past. Divided by a sequence of islands on the New River, Sandstone Falls measures in at 15-25 toes excessive, however its 1,500-foot width is most spectacular.

Sandstone Falls is straightforward to entry because of an elaborate quarter-mile-long boardwalk and bridge system. The primary bridge is small and crosses a artifical channel that when diverted water for a grist mill utilized by native farmers. The primary overlook on the boardwalk provides good vantage factors of the decrease part of falls and is a well-liked spot for fishing. To the left of the overlook, you’ll discover the Island Loop Path, which leads you thru the Appalachian Riverside Flatrock Group, a singular botanical ecosystem in West Virginia.

The second bridge crosses a large pure channel with a stupendous view of the decrease falls within the distance. The boardwalk ends at an overlook with a 20-foot-high part of falls within the distance. All alongside the boardwalk, you’ll discover a number of user-created paths main to numerous vantage factors alongside the channels and river.

The trail close to the tip of the boardwalk is the place I invite you to depart the boardwalk and discover. The path results in an island with magnificent vistas of the river and the primary part of falls. Three stream crossings are required to achieve the island, so cross with care throughout greater water flows. As soon as on the island, you’ll be mesmerized by the scene in entrance of you. That is the place you witness the grandeur of Sandstone Falls up shut and private. Compositional selections for images are quite a few right here. Go to within the morning hours, and you’ll usually be met with foggy situations for moody pictures, and the sunsets listed here are superb to witness and seize.

Kate’s Department Falls

Image of Kate’s Branch Falls in New River GorgeImage of Kate’s Branch Falls in New River Gorge

Kate’s Department Falls

Kate’s Department Falls is one other favourite of mine, nevertheless it does want constant rainfall to actually shine and is subsequently finest visited in early to mid-spring. Trillium is prevalent right here and, when in bloom, makes a superb foreground on your pictures of Kate’s Department Falls.

Kate’s Department Falls is situated on a spur path off of the favored Glade Creek Path and is a 2.4-mile spherical journey hike from the higher trailhead car parking zone. Or you can begin your hike from the decrease trailhead parking space and add in a cease at Decrease Glade Creek Falls in your method as much as Kate’s Department Falls. Glade Creek is a really picturesque stream, and within the spring, you will discover quite a few wildflower varieties alongside the path.

Brush Creek Falls

Image of Brush Creek Falls in West VirginiaImage of Brush Creek Falls in West Virginia

Brush Creek Falls

Whereas outdoors the nationwide park boundaries, Brush Creek Falls is sort of worthy of a point out. Brush Creek is situated close to Athens, West Virginia, and is maintained and managed by Pipestem Resort State Park. Adjoining to Brush Creek Falls is the Nature Conservancy’s Brush Creek Protect, a haven for spring wildflowers, migrating warblers, and dramatic limestone and sandstone cliffs.

From the parking space, observe the rock-strewn path for 1 / 4 mile. Your first view of the falls will probably be what I name the higher falls—a sequence of small cascades that makes up the ledge of Brush Creek Falls. Proceed down the path a brief distance previous a wood fence and make an abrupt switchback right down to the creek.

A number of good vantage factors for photographing Brush Creek Falls will be discovered when you descend the trail from the path above. The pool is fairly giant, although, so my favourite views are within the creek itself or from the opposite aspect of the creek. Watch out in the event you determine to wade into or throughout the creek; all stream crossings needs to be made with further warning as a consequence of slick rocks and turbulent water.

For added photograph alternatives, there are some good stream scenes and small cascades downstream from Brush Creek Falls. Accessing them would require some creek strolling or steep scrambles down from the path. When Brush Creek is raging, take the time to hike an extra 1.5-plus miles to White Oak Creek Falls. Lastly, yet another neat little cascade is on the opposite aspect of the highway on the parking space—you’ll be able to’t miss it.

Central New River Gorge

Dunloup Creek Falls

Image of Dunloup Creek Falls in New River GorgeImage of Dunloup Creek Falls in New River Gorge

Dunloup Creek Falls

Constant water ranges in even the driest of summer season months make Dunloup Creek Falls a beautiful four-season waterfall. The roadside pullout provides a pleasant view of the falls from above, although a brief however steep scramble right down to the creek will afford you a lot better digicam angles. I like to get my toes moist at this waterfall. From the middle of the stream or close to both financial institution, Dunloup Creek Falls takes on a completely completely different look. Make sure you spend a while exploring the creek upstream and downstream from these falls, as there are a number of small cascades and stream scenes accessible. Additionally close by is the historic ghost city of Thurmond, a well-liked New River Gorge Nationwide Park and Protect location.

Wolf Creek Falls

Image of Wolf Creek FallsImage of Wolf Creek Falls

Wolf Creek Falls

Whereas it is a roadside waterfall, many people driving by miss out on Wolf Creek Falls. It’s hidden deep within the canyon and particularly tough to identify when the bushes are stuffed with leaves. The trail right down to the falls could be very steep, and I describe the descent as extra of a managed tumble as you make your method right down to the creek. About midway down, you’ll encounter a jungle of rhododendron, and though you’ll have to duck somewhat as you undergo, you’ll be grateful for the lending hand the branches afford. As soon as by means of the thicket, you’ll be on the base of the falls. My favourite perspective right here is from a small ledge close to the place you emerge from the rhododendron jungle. A pair different good vantage factors are from the alternative financial institution and from a ledge above the falls.

Higher & Decrease Fern Creek Falls

Image of Upper Fern Creek Falls in New River GorgeImage of Upper Fern Creek Falls in New River Gorge

Higher Fern Creek Falls

There are a minimum of a dozen waterfalls on Fern Creek, however I’ll focus strictly on the higher and decrease falls right here. Merely put, this waterfall trek isn’t for everybody. Whereas the approaches to Higher Fern are on established paths, from then on, it’s an off-trail bushwhack with seemingly insurmountable obstacles comparable to rhododendron thickets and house-sized boulders alongside the best way.

There are two approaches to Higher Fern Creek. One is through the extremely in style Countless Wall Path and utilizing a climber’s ladder to descend to the creek. The opposite is an easy-to-follow path alongside the cliff line solid by rock climbers.

For many of the 12 months, the higher falls of Fern Creek are largely hidden from view, because the water is working by means of a cave-like cleft within the cliff wall. However when the stream is rain-swollen, the higher falls tackle a dramatically completely different character. Ed Rehbein, my good pal and co-author of our ebook on New River Gorge waterfalls, adequately describes it as “high drama.” You’ll hear the thunderous rumble of water nicely earlier than you see it, and if you spherical the ultimate bend within the path, you’ll be stopped in your tracks on the rugged magnificence in entrance of you. Fern Creek leaps in spectacular vogue over the cleft into an amphitheater strewn with large boulders—excessive drama certainly!

From right here, you will have to determine if you wish to make the tough trek right down to the decrease falls and witness the opposite waterfalls on the best way. If you happen to go, you’ll be descending after which working your method again up on a harmful and steep grade that requires a whole lot of off-trail navigation by means of the beforehand talked about obstacles. Another phrase of warning: That is the one space within the Gorge the place I’ve encountered multiple copperhead snake, so proceed with nice warning.

Image of Lower Fern Creek Falls in New River GorgeImage of Lower Fern Creek Falls in New River Gorge

Decrease Fern Creek Falls

If you’re nonetheless raring to go regardless of these warnings, the perfect route is to remain on the suitable aspect of the stream (wanting downstream) as you descend. There aren’t any official trails down into the canyon, however there was sufficient visitors in recent times that you need to be capable to choose up a faint path right here and there.

As you rigorously work your method down into the canyon, you’ll cross by a number of smaller falls and a few vital drops, with one in all them being what I dub as the center falls. From right here, the scramble on right down to the decrease falls is a bit simpler to navigate, and in just a few tenths of a mile, you’ll attain them. Of all of the waterfalls on Fern Creek, the decrease falls is my favourite and is sort of stunning.

Glade Creek Falls

Glade Creek Falls in Babcock State ParkGlade Creek Falls in Babcock State Park

Glade Creek Falls

We are going to once more step outdoors of the nationwide park boundaries right here and go to a close-by state park. The enduring Glade Creek Grist Mill in Babcock State Park makes for a dramatic backdrop to this stream-wide waterfall, which sits a number of yards downstream of the mill. Glade Creek Falls is a stupendous waterfall however having the outdated grist mill within the background makes this a must-see location. The Glade Creek Grist Mill is definitely West Virginia’s most-photographed web site, and in the event you go to right here throughout peak fall foliage season, you’ll perceive why. Make sure you discover downstream from the waterfall, the place you will discover a number of fairly cascades and stream scenes.

Decrease New River Gorge

Mill Creek Falls

Mill Creek FallsMill Creek Falls

Mill Creek Falls

Mill Creek is a rugged mountain stream full of lovely stream scenes, small waterfalls, and cascades, with Mill Creek Falls being the spotlight. Its setting and the small ledges over which the water programs ship distinctive photograph alternatives in all seasons.

Whilst you can hike to Mill Creek Falls on the historic Ansted Rail Path, it’s a lot simpler to entry through Hawks Nest Street, the place you’ll be able to merely park and scramble right down to the falls. Proceed down the highway and take within the view of Hawks Nest Lake, which is the New River held again by a dam simply downstream. There’s a photogenic railroad bridge over the lake. From the parking space, you too can take a straightforward half-mile hike on the Fisherman’s Path to Decrease Turkey Creek Falls.

Cathedral Falls

Cathedral Falls in New River GorgeCathedral Falls in New River Gorge

Cathedral Falls

The waters of Cane Department cascade steeply down a sequence of ledges right into a pure amphitheater surrounded by a slim canyon with the towering partitions on both aspect, giving one the sensation of being in a cathedral. Cathedral Falls, situated proper off U.S. Route 60, is without doubt one of the tallest and most-visited waterfalls in West Virginia.

You’ll be able to step out of your automobile and begin taking pictures—Cathedral Falls is that shut. The roadside location and sheer great thing about the falls just about ensures that you’ll be sharing the falls with others. I’ve discovered that visiting early within the morning or on wet days will increase my possibilities of discovering uncommon solitude at this stunning waterfall. 


See extra of Randall Sanger’s work at randallsanger.com.

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