Get lost in the remote beauty of Lost River
Cranny Crow overlook offers commanding view of five counties
As one of West Virginia’s more remote state parks, it’s easy to see how Lost River got its name. But there’s more to that story. The park borrows its name from a tributary to the Cacapon River known as the Lost River which flows underground at “the Sinks” along W.Va. Route 259 and resurfaces near Wardensville as the Cacapon River.
This Eastern Panhandle park is a favorite destination for travelers from the booming D.C.-Baltimore metro area who seek a quiet getaway in the mountains of Almost Heaven.
“For being so close to the Baltimore/Washington region, this place is great for getting away. We stayed at cabin #22 (one of the modern cabins) and found it to be very clean and spacious. Very forested and quiet with several hiking options. We went with the most popular hike — the well-marked 3-mile round trip hike up to Cranny Crow which from the top is one of the best views in West Virginia. Wildlife was abundant on our three-day stay including lots of songbirds, deer, whippoorwills at dusk and evidence of a bear trying to get into the garbage can out back last night.”— MdRngr, TripAdvisor Reviewer from Maryland
A beacon for outdoor lovers, Lost River boasts 23 miles of hiking trails as well as guided horseback rides. But the centerpiece of this park is the Cranny Crow overlook that sits at 3,200 feet atop Big Ridge Mountain, where on a clear day visitors can see into five counties.
The stone shelter at Cranny Crow was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. More of this historic architecture is present in the park’s Legacy cabins. Additional overnight lodging is available in the newer Classic cabins and the deluxe Vacation cabins.
“Wanted to go swimming, found this delightful gorgeous state park. Pool is spring fed, cabins available, horseback riding and picnic areas. Tucked away in the middle of nowhere, beautiful scenic drive.”— vitagrl, TripAdvisor Reviewer from Martinsburg
Lost River State Park is located near the site of the 1756 Battle of Lost River, a battle fought during the French and Indian War. It’s also the site of the Lee Cabin, the home of Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee, a Revolutionary War general and father of Civil War General Robert E. Lee.
Lee built the cabin as a summer retreat and once operated a resort hotel on the grounds near a sulfur spring where visitors came to partake of the healing waters. The restored cabin is fully furnished and operated as a museum depicting life in the early 1800s. The hotel is long gone but visitors can still draw water from the spigot at Lee Sulphur Springs.
Part of the appeal of Lost River is its remoteness. But you can find some amazing natural wonders within an hour or two’s drive of the park.
Tour an underground wonderland at Seneca Caverns or Smoke Hole Caverns. Visit the highest point in the state —Spruce Knob, which sits at a lofty elevation 4,861 feet and presents a panoramic view of the valley. Hike to the top of the towering spine of Seneca Rocks or take a walk through the eerily beautiful windswept plains of the Dolly Sods Wilderness.
You’ll also find some unique attractions in the area. Tackle a via ferrata (fixed anchor) climb at NROCKS Outdoor Adventures or watch for bald eagles patrolling the South Branch of the Potomac River on the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad.
“We spent one week in one of the modern pet-friendly cabins in June and had a great experience. We did some hiking and horseback riding in the park, and hiking in nearby Seneca Rocks, George Washington National Forest, and Shenandoah National Park. We also loved sitting on the front porch at our cabin with our two dogs to simply unwind and listen to nature. If you are looking for a place where the only road noise you will hear is the occasional car that passes to get to/from their cabin, you can connect with your loved ones and disconnect from the internet, and people wave to say “hi” when you pass them on the road, then look no further. We both work and live in the city, and our Lost River vacation gave us a chance to slow down and rejuvenate. We hope to return again.”— Mable0123, TripAdvisor Reviewer from Ohio
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