There are many sights to see in southern West Virginia. This article will describe a day trip out of Beckley, West Virginia to see a number of waterfalls and scenic views. We travel as a family with a daughter who has limited mobility, so this article also considers the accessibility factor of sightseeing. We travel with a manual wheelchair designed for somewhat rugged conditions so the accessibility factors won’t completely correspond to the use of a normal wheelchair or transport chair. There is much more that could have been seen, but time limited the trip to these few highlights. The link below should take you to a MapQuest map showing a rough approximation of the route we took and the descriptions and photos that follow will correspond with this route. Enjoy the journey with us. 🙂
- Twin Falls Resort State Park
Our first stop after leaving the hotel in Beckley was at the Twin Falls Resort State Park. This park made the list of stops due to its namesake twin falls and they did not disappoint. The two falls are along the same loop trail and the path to the first falls is paved and easily accessible. The trail becomes more rocky and rugged between the two falls to the point where our daughter had to get out of the wheelchair and walk part of the way. Shortly after the second falls, the trail picks up an old roadbed that returns to the first falls and was once again usable with our wheelchair. The walk would have been more accessible had we taken the roadbed both ways between the falls, but we would have missed some beautiful scenery as the more rugged path followed the stream.
- Pinnacle Rock State Park
After leaving Twin Falls, our next stop was Pinnacle Rock State Park. There seems to be two parts to this park as my GPS originally took us to a lake access point that is not near the scenic views of Pinnacle Rock. In looking at the MapQuest directions, it tries to do the same thing. You actually need to take Coal Heritage Road (Highway 52) northwest out of Bluewell instead of going straight through on Pinnacle Lake Road. We ended up in Virginia for a short time before making our way back to where we wanted to be. This park (on Highway 52) provides great views from an overlook reached by climbing a good number of stairs. There is a picnic area and playground that is accessible and can be reached by a driveway that allows handicap tagged vehicles to park at the playground site. Most of the stairway had good solid railing, although there were a few sections missing when we were there. The view from the observation platform at the top was worth the work expended in getting there.
- Camp Creek State Park
After leaving Pinnacle Rock, we made our way to Camp Creek State Park. The route took us through Princeton, West Virginia which has plenty of lunch options if you are so inclined. Camp Creek State Park wasn’t found in my GPS but it did have a location for Camp Creek State Forest which seemed to get me to where I wanted to be. The two waterfalls at the property are what got this park to make the list of stopping points. Mash Creek Falls was the most accessible as there was parking in front of the falls — but not so close that the vehicles were in the way of photographing. Camp Creek Falls had a parking area about a quarter mile from the falls and the path back was a gravel roadbed that our wheelchair worked well on. The park had a couple nice looking picnic and play areas if you are more inclined to a picnic than a lunch stop in one of the towns you go through.
- Brush Creek Falls
After leaving Camp Creek, it isn’t far to Brush Creek Falls although the route is over some very narrow, winding roads. There is limited parking at the trail-head to the falls and the trail actually goes on for some distance beyond the falls if you’re wanting to do some hiking to stretch your legs. The falls is listed at a quarter mile from the parking area and the trail is fairly wide but rocky at places. It was short enough that we left the wheelchair in the truck and had our daughter walk it, knowing there would be a time of rest while we photographed the falls before returning to the truck. I probably could have managed pushing the wheelchair on most of the trail but there were some sections that may have been too rugged with the amount of rock exposed. The trail from the top of the falls to the bottom was narrow and steep, but manageable. Halfway back from the falls to the truck our daughter had a seizure so we stopped in the middle of the trail where I held her until she was through it and was able to finish the walk. That also finished her mobility for the rest of the day.
- Pipestem Resort State Park
After leaving Brush Creek, we made our way to Pipestem Resort State Park. Just inside the park’s main entrance is a lookout tower that provides incredible views in all directions. The path from the parking area to the tower is a rather steep series of paved switchbacks. Walking it would probably not be overly difficult, but pushing a wheelchair up it made it a very strenuous hike. The view at the top, however, was worth it. From a large grassy knoll, the tower rose several stories above the surrounding tree lines and the access to the top was via a wide staircase that after several flights of stairs opened onto a covered observation deck. We also stopped at the lodge on the canyon rim where the views were also astounding. There is a second lodge in the park that is accessible only by trail or their skyway tram, but it is a seasonal lodge and was not open at this time.
- Pipestem Falls
After leaving Pipestem Park through the back way, at least it was the back way compared to the way we came in, we came upon Pipestem Falls. This falls lies directly alongside the roadway so it is easy to get to and there is a nice view looking down upon the lower falls. There is also a nice path to view the upper part of the falls. Getting to the bottom of the creek bed for a view of the lower part of the falls is a little more tricky as there doesn’t appear to be a “normal” path of access. While carrying the same name as the park, the falls appear to be just outside of the park’s official boundaries and wasn’t listed on any of the park maps that I had looked at.
- Little Beaver State Park
As we left Pipestem Falls, the sun was beginning to drop in the western sky and I began to look for a good location to photograph the sunset. In searching for a possible stop, my GPS found Little Beaver State Park between where we were and where we wanted to end up for the night. The route would have taken us directly through Bluestone State Park, but there was a detour around it as the main entryway was closed at the time. Little Beaver State Park seemed to be centered around a small man-made lake as the entrance took us past a dam with water falling over it. The lake was surrounded by trees and while it was a very beautiful setting, the trees screened out the sun from the reflected view I would have liked to have seen in the lake. Regardless, it was a beautiful stop and we had no need to really test any of the accessibility of the park, although it looked to be very accessible.
- New River Gorge National Park — Grandview Overlook
With Little Beaver State Park not giving the view I was looking for, our next stop was at the Grandview Overlook of the New River Gorge National Park. The name itself gave great hope that it would provide the sunset view I was looking for. The area that we stopped in had a great setup for accessibility as a wide flagstone path made its way from the parking lot to the overlook observation area. It was a beautiful view of the New River Gorge but happens to be on the west rim of the gorge, meaning that the view was looking eastward and not toward the setting sun. There appeared to be a variety of trails and things to do from this location, including an area for a seasonal outdoor drama, but the stop was worth it for the views alone.
- I-64/Grandview Road Interchange
On our way to the Grandview Overlook, we had crossed Interstate 64 at an interchange which provided a clearing toward the west. Our route from Grandview to Beckley took us back to this interchange in order to take I-64 west. While not a destination, it was at the top of this interchange that I found the sunset view I was hoping for. While there was still some driving to do (and some ice cream to be eaten) before arriving back to the hotel for the night, the scene from this location was the perfect ending to a day focused on the natural beauty of waterfalls and scenic views in southern West Virginia.