Hiking is not just for warm-weather months. In fact, a stroll through the woods during the winter opens a whole new world of snow-blanketed trees, animal tracks and frozen waterfalls. So, bundle up and venture out for a winter trek. Contact the park office to see if there are any guided hikes scheduled. Or take a hike on your own on one of these wild and wonderful winter hikes.
1. Lakeshore Trail at Pipestem Resort State Park
Set on the rim of the wild and beautiful Bluestone Gorge, Pipestem Resort State Park is a popular destination for winter activities like cross-country skiing. The 3-mile loop around Long Branch Lake makes a good winter hike, with its gentle, rolling hills, thick groves of pine and scenic views of Long Branch Lake.
2. Falls Trail at Twin Falls Resort State Park
The two waterfalls at Twin Falls Resort State Park are best viewed in winter or early spring, when snow runoff increases the water flow. Forming a loop, the 1.25-mile Falls Trail is paved to Marsh Fork Falls, the shorter and wider of the two falls. The trail then breaks into a single-track dirt path that winds past the 20-foot-high Black Fork Falls, which flows in a chute over a rock ledge. In freezing weather, delicate icicles adorn the rock ledges on either side of the falls, lending a fairytale quality to the scene.
3. Lindy Point at Blackwater Falls State Park
Located just one mile past the Blackwater Falls State Park sledding area, Lindy Point is a must-do hike while you’re in that part of the park. It’s a short, easy walk – less than a mile out and back – that leads to a rock overhang forming an overlook 3,000 feet over the awe-inspiring Blackwater Canyon. At times during the winter, the road to the Lindy Point trail head is closed for cross-country skiing. If that’s the case, rent a couple of skis from the sled run rental shop and enjoy a new winter activity. More than 10 miles of trails in Blackwater Falls are also available for cross-country skiing as well.
4. Giant Pine Trail at North Bend State Park
This half-mile loop begins across from lodge at North Bend State Park. It passes through a thicket of white pine and old-growth forest where several tree species reach record heights. With its moderate grades and smooth tread, the trail is ideal for a winter stroll through the towering evergreens. Watch for birds, deer and other wildlife along the way.
5. Coal Mine Trail at Chief Logan State Park
Chief Logan State Park offers ample opportunities to explore regional history as well as natural beauty in the National Coal Heritage Area. History buffs will enjoy this moderate 1-mile trek that highlights West Virginia’s coal mining heritage. The trail begins in the campground and follows a mine tram road, passing old mine openings and a tipple site. And don’t forget to stop by Chief Logan’s Museum in the Park to learn more about southern West Virginia’s coal mining history.
6. Overlook Rock Trail at Kanawha State Forest
Just minutes away from downtown Charleston, Kanawha State Forest is the ideal escape for a couple of hours of winter hiking. Beginning just south of the nature center, this 1.5-mile trails starts with a challenging climb to the ridgeline and back down winds through moss-covered boulders and mixed forest.
7. Monongaseneka Trail at Watoga State Park
This 2.5-mile trek is an uphiller, but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful vistas peeking through the winter-bare trees. The trail begins half a mile from the Watoga State Park park entrance, following switchbacks up the mountain and passing through Jeff’s Hollow before climbing to the main ridge. From there, a loop leads to a serene resting spot with benches overlooking the Greenbrier River.