West Virginia is nicknamed the Mountain State, but it could just as easily be nicknamed the Waterfall State. Steep terrain and an abundance of creeks and rivers make it home to innumerable waterfalls and cascades. With countless creeks and streams, as well as the New, Bluestone, Gauley and Meadow Rivers, the New River Gorge region is graced with well over 100 waterfalls. With its ample rainfall, spring is the best time to view and photograph these waterfalls, but following, in no particular order, are ten waterfalls that are normally running great even in the drier summer and fall months.
1. Dunloup Creek Falls (pictured above)
Dunloup Creek Falls is located in the heart of the Gorge near the historic town of Thurmond. It is a roadside waterfall, so there’s not much effort involved to access this one. It is especially pretty in the late afternoon to early evening light. I call this one my “go-to” waterfall as it always seems to have great waterflow. How to Get There: Exit Route 19 at Glen Jean. Travel Route 25 to Thurmond. Look for an obvious pull-off on the right that will hold 3-4 vehicles.
Waypoint: 37.9382N, 81.0977W
2. Sandstone Falls
Sandstone Falls is arguably the crown jewel of New River Gorge waterfalls. Weighing in at 1500 feet wide it is a majestic scene to behold. With the lower water levels of summer and fall, you can easily hop off the boardwalk and follow the numerous paths out to the island for a view of the center-most section of the falls. How to Get There: From I-64 take the Sandstone Exit (#139) then drive south on Route 20 to Hinton, cross the bridge, then turn right onto River Road and follow it for roughly 10 miles to the Sandstone Falls parking area. Waypoint: 37.7572N, 80.9053W
3. Cathedral Falls
Cathedral Falls, located near Gauley Bridge, is another roadside waterfall and often times difficult to photograph without people in your frame. It’s one of the tallest in the state, and its beauty and easy access makes this one a must see! How to Get There: From Fayetteville, follow Route 19 North to Route 60 West and follow that for roughly 16 miles to Gauley Bridge. The parking area for Cathedral Falls is located on the right. Waypoint: 38.1539N, 81.1797W
4. Mash Fork Falls
Mash Fork Falls is located within Camp Creek State Park, as is Campbell Falls (below) and what it lacks in size it makes up in beauty. It is easily my favorite small waterfall in West Virginia. It is simply remarkable to view during the fall season. How to Get There: Camp Creek State Park is about 30 minutes south of Beckley, WV. For directions, go to campcreekstatepark.com. Waypoint: 37.5005N, 81.1425W
5. Campbell Falls
Campbell Falls on Camp Creek is another Bluestone River tributary and is the highlight of Camp Creek State Park and Forest. Autumn is my favorite season to photograph this spectacular waterfall as brightly colored leaves color the forest and the stream. Be sure to take the time to explore farther upstream to find another beautiful sectioned cascade. How to Get There: Camp Creek State Park is about 30 minutes south of Beckley, WV. For directions, go to campcreekstatepark.com. Waypoint: 38.0599N, 81.0804W
6. Upper Marr Branch Falls
Upper Marr Branch Falls, located just off Fayette Station Road, is another favorite of mine, which I especially enjoy photographing during the fall season. Its roadside location doesn’t make this one easy to see or access, but it is certainly worthwhile for those that are a little adventurous. A short but rocky and steep descent will lead you down to the waterfall. If you don’t like the looks of the path, you can always settle for the smaller waterfall just upstream and easily visible from the road. How to Get There: Fayette Station Road can be found north of the New River Gorge Bridge just past the Canyon Rim Visitors Center, nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/crvc.htm. Waypoint: 38.0748N, 81.0928W
7. Keeneys Creek Falls
Keeneys Creek Falls There are numerous waterfalls and cascades on Keeneys Creek located near Winona and the newly restored Nuttallburg Mine Complex. The waterfall pictured is my favorite Keeneys Creek waterfall and its roadside location makes it easy to find. A very short scramble down to the creek makes it also easy to access. Be sure to take the time to explore this beautiful creek and its smaller and unique waterfalls and cascades, many of which can only be accessed by wading through the stream itself. How to Get There: From Fayetteville, follow Route 19 North to Route 60 East and follow it for roughly 5 miles to Lookout, then turn right onto Lansing Edmond Road and follow it for 2 miles to Winona. Continue straight onto Keeneys Creek Road and follow it for roughly 2 miles to the waterfall pictured. Waypoint: 38.0332N, 81.0229W
8. Brush Creek Falls
Brush Creek Falls is a tributary to the Bluestone River and is a very popular waterfall. From the parking area, follow the easily traversed path about an 1/8th of a mile and continue past the waterfall for about 30 yards to the path that will lead you to down to the creek. If you’d like to view the waterfall from the vantage point in the picture, carefully wade across the creek for this unique view. How to Get There: From I-77 South take the Athens Road Exit (#14), turn left and drive a short distance and then turn left onto Eads Mill Road. Follow for 3 miles and then turn right onto Brush Creek Falls Road. At the bottom of the hill, cross the small bridge over Brush Creek and then turn left into the parking area. Waypoint: 37.4669N, 81.0603W
9. Mill Creek Falls
Mill Creek Fallsis located near Ansted, West Virginia. It’s accessible by foot or car. The beautiful Ansted rail-trail will lead you to an upper viewpoint of this waterfall, which is the largest on Mill Creek. Mill Creek is a wonderful little mountain stream and the entire creek is worth exploring for additional waterfalls and cascades, both upstream and downstream of this waterfall. How to Get There: In Ansted, bear north at the Rite Aid drug store, then left onto Hawks Nest Road. Waypoint: 38.1257N, 81.1071W
10. Wolf Creek Falls
Wolf Creek Falls High up on the Plateau, Wolf Creek is a gentle meandering stream, but as it makes its way down to join the New River, it changes in demeanor and becomes a rough and tumble creek flowing over, around, and under massive boulders. Wolf Creek Falls is another waterfall located in the heart of the Gorge and is found just off Fayette Station Road near the Kaymoor Trail trailhead. Two different paths lead you down to the waterfall, but be careful, as either one requires a rather steep scramble. How to Get There: Kaymoor Trail trailhead is found off Fayette Station Road just south of the New River. Waypoint: 38.0599N, 81.0804W
Article and photograph by Randall Sanger. Randall Sanger grew up in West Virginia and now lives in Williamson. He travels all over the state to hike and photograph waterfalls.
Sanger published a book of New River Gorge’s waterfalls with Ed Rehbein called West Virginia Waterfalls: The New River Gorge available at his website, randallsanger.com.