Non-Caving Activities

— NORTH of Convention —

BLACKWATER CANYON [12]

The Blackwater Canyon is nine miles long and 1,600 feet deep. An old Western Maryland rail bed runs the Canyon’s length, is 12.5 miles long, and drops from the uphill Thomas terminus into Parsons. The trail is described as a rigorous ride for inexperienced mountain bikers, as its surface is not maintained. The area is located about 25 miles north-northeast of Elkins and is reached by driving through Parsons.

GPS:

39.14450, -79.50203 (North end in Thomas)
39.07490, -79.63066 (South end on Rt 72 in Hendricks)

BLACKWATER FALLS STATE PARK [13]

Blackwater Falls State Park has a large resort lodge and restaurant, camping and cabins, and West Virginia’s highest aboveground waterfall, Blackwater Falls, which is 65 feet high. There is hiking, mountain biking, fishing, golf, and horseback riding. There are approximately 20 miles of trails, including an eight-mile-long trail to Canaan Valley. The park also contains Pendleton Falls, a tributary falls that is also one of the highest waterfalls in the state. The area is located about 25 miles north-northeast of Elkins and can be reached either by going north on U.S. 219 to Parsons and Thomas and then south on State Route 32, or by driving east on U.S. 33 to Harman and then north on State Route 32.

GPS: 39.12868, -79.47321 (Park entrance on Rt. 32)

CANAAN VALLEY [14]

Canaan Valley is located between Harman and Blackwater Falls State Park. It is on the headwaters of the Blackwater River, where there are extensive bogs and a more northern plant life than is usually found in West Virginia. The area is located about 25 miles northeast of Elkins and can be reached by traveling east on U.S. 33 to Harman and then north on State Route 32.

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge is 17,000 acres in size. Interpretive hikes are led at selected times, and hiking, bird watching, and environmental-education activities are popular. Canaan Mountain Backcountry is a semi-primitive area about 13,500 acres in size and has elevations as high as 4,145 feet. The Canaan Loop Road is 18 miles long, and is good for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Canaan Valley State Park is located at the southern end of the valley. It contains both a downhill ski area and a golf course, and has camping, ice skating, cabins, and a modern resort lodge. There is also a second downhill ski area (Timberline) and a cross-country area (White Grass) located nearby.

The town of Davis is located just north of the valley, and contains restaurants, shops, and stores that cater to the various outdoor sports.

GPS: 39.04507, -79.44582 (Visitor center)

CATHEDRAL STATE PARK [15]

This park is located in Preston County about 90 minutes north of Elkins. Take U.S. Route 219 north to Parsons and Thomas. The park is located about 12 miles north of Thomas on U.S. Route 219 and State Route 24 (at the junction of U.S. Route 50). It is 133 acres in size and contains the last virgin forest of eastern hemlocks in the Appalachians. The trees are up to 90 feet in height, with circumferences of 21 feet. There are six miles of hiking trails, and the combination of hemlocks, rhododendrons, ferns, mountain stream, and wildlife offers excellent hiking and photography opportunities. The park is a Natural Historical Landmark, described as “an area that possesses exceptional value in illustrating the natural history of the United States.”

GPS: 39.32626, -79.53390 (Park entrance)