A friend recently suggested we take a trip to Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia, which happens to be one of his favorite day trip destinations. As soon as Hubs mentioned it to me, I jumped on my phone to do a quick search about the park. I almost always start with an image search and expand from there to see which hikes are available and if there are any nerd-friendly (i.e., education or historical) stops to be made. My quick search showed that it would be worth the trip for the falls alone, but the vistas also drew me in with the steep and stunning Appalachian valleys. I expanded my search and discovered that Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia is dog friendly as well! So, on our next free weekend, we packed up our middle-aged slightly-crazy Shih Tzu named Rackers and set-out for the hills.
The Drive to West Virginia
We set out mid-morning for the 2.5 hour drive (just over 3 hours from DC) and fully enjoyed the beautiful vistas as the road climbed higher into the Appalachian Mountains. We were pleasantly surprised at how well Rackers behaved on the journey. He has a horrible habit of sitting on the passenger’s lap and whining for what seems like hours on end. Much to the benefit of our ears, he passed this phase in about 20 minutes.
Always Up For A Picnic
Timing the trip as we did, we arrived in Davis, West Virginia in time for lunch. Once in town, we drove the main drag to see if there were any outdoor eating areas that were dog-friendly. The beautiful weather and a craft fair meant that the tables at the outdoor areas were full when we arrived. A quick chat later and we decided to switch to Plan B and grabbed sandwich fixing from the local Shop ‘n Save.
After grabbing our sandwich fixings, we decided to just head into Blackwater Falls State Park. The park is a few short miles from Davis, so many visitors use it as a base. We ended up parking at the trading post with the intent of hiking directly to the falls, but decided that we would eat lunch first in case we wanted to wander longer than planned. The trading post area has picnic tables, but again, they were full. Thankfully, the back of our SUV makes an excellent picnic area. This worked out quite well as we had backed into our parking space and the trunk overlooked the woods.
I do want to note that we found plenty of places for legit picnics as we drove around the park, so do not limit yourself to just the picnic tables around the trading post (I recommend the Pendleton Point Overlook if you are looking for a quiet space). After we finished eating, we took a quick break to use the facilities at the trading post and then headed to the falls.
Blackwater Canyon’s “Great Falls”
From the Trade Post, take either of the falls marked paths. Both paths lead to the overlook at the top of the falls boardwalk. Take a moment to read about the history of Blackwater Canyon and then set-off down the boardwalk stairs. There are several stopping points for those who need rests during physical activity, many of which have excellent views of the falls. As you descend down the stairs, the roar of the falls gets louder and louder until you arrive at the final viewing platform.
While we did not have adequate time on our day trip to enjoy Pendleton Lake, you may want to include it in yours. We did, however, drive by the lake and it was busy. There were people fishing, canoeing, and having enjoying life on the shore.
Pendleton Point Overlook
We almost missed the Pendleton Point Overlook and I am sure glad we didn’t! From the parking area, follow the well-marked trail towards the overlook. There is a nice viewing platform that allows visitors to take in a large expanse of the Blackwater River and Blackwater Canyon. Across the valley from the platform, you can view the Falls of Elakala through the coin operated binoculars (they take quarters).
Lindy Point Trail and Overlook
The Lindy Point trailhead is a little off the beaten path, but easily accessible by car from the Canaan Loop Road. On our visit, the trail was fairly busy and the handful of designated parking spots were filled. Thankfully, there is overflow parking along the road. The easily marked trailhead starts near the designated parking spot area. The trail was fairly flat, which make the hike easy for my out-of-shape self and our small dog. The vistas at the overlook are stunning.
Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia is one of my favorite DC-based day trip destinations. So much so, that we have added it to our list of places to take my family the next time they visit. While the main “Great Falls” are stunning, we equally enjoyed our time away from the falls. Pendleton Point Overlook has a great view of the Blackwater Canyon and you can see Elakala Falls across the valley. The Lindy Point Overlook was my favorite non-falls location, as the views were spectacular and the hike was very manageable for most ability levels. All in all, I highly recommend visiting Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia.
- If you decide to visit as part of a day trip from the DC area, be sure to leave early in the morning to allow for maximum time in the park.
- Pets are welcome in the park, but not in the trading post.
- The ice cream at the food shack next to the trading post was excellent and is a great post-hike treat.
- If you have extra time, take the extra 20 minutes to drive to visit the Fairfax Stone. It’s a great history location for those of us who call Northern Virginia (NoVa) home.