Self-guided adventures on this page include:
Each self-guded section below includes suggestion, driving directions and more. Copy and paste info that you want. When you come to the Whitewater Whirl, bring it with you to lead your through your day's adventure.
Fayetteville is the county seat, and has benefited from seasonal outdoor tourism. Rafting, rock climbing and kayaking are the sports that have put this area on the map.
Fayetteville has several good, inexpensive-to-moderately-priced restaurants, an art gallery, "outdoor" shops .... Court St. is the main drag of this small but interesting town. (For restaurant info, see the food and lodging page.)
"Definitely mention the birding next time! I did not have enough time to exhaust the possibilities even at the top of the hill because it was PEAK migration and the warblers and other birds were so plentiful." - Ruth Anne Lachendro
Ruth Anne nailed it: There's no better Spring birding here than Whitewater Whirl weekend. You can just walk up the hill from Whirl Central, or take a hike into the Gorge, or take one of the raft trips and view birds from a raft drifting downriver. It's all birds, all the time!
Another birding option (for a fee) would be to register for one of the Saturday pro-guided excursions being offered by the New River Birding & Nature Festival, taking place in our immediate area at this time. See our "Pro-guided adventures" section.
Fayetteville See Fayetteville above and also
Tamarack Tamarack is the nation's first and only statewide collection of handmade craft, art and cuisine showcasing The Best of West Virginia.
From hand-carved furniture to glass and pottery to Appalachian quilts, Tamarack offers only the best. You will also find a delectable array of regional specialty foods and products, as well as performances, craft demonstrations, and theatre (depending on what's going on when you are there).
Plus, Tamarack features THE BEST cafeteria food you’ll EVER have, at great prices. www.tamarackwv.com
To get there:
Be safe: If you plan to hike in the Gorge, bring a buddy, something to eat, and especially water.
New River Gorge by car, with hiking option
Before the "Big Bridge" was constructed (and you can get the story on that at the Canyon Rim Visitors Center - see below), the only way across the New River in this region of the county was Fayette Station Road, and it's a great drive.
Okay, you're ready to leave the river ... cross that little wooded bridge again and turn right.
You could combine these for a full morning or more.
When you're ready to leave the Visitors Center, you might consider the "New River Gorge by car" trip - see above.
If you do opt for the Gorge, you'll take a right out of the parking lot and follow the directions for that drive. Otherwise, turn left out of the lot. At 19, cross the median and turn left to take you toward Fayetteville. At the light, turn L to Fayetteville, or R to return to the Country Park. If you want to combine this drive with theBabcock State Park drive, do not exit US-60 onto US-19, just continue over 19.
Babcock State Park Scenic Drive
The rock pool below the grist mill was a swimming area in less litigious times. The Grist Mill is purportedly the most photographed structure in the State.
You can pick up a trail map in the Office. Mann's Creek Trail is a favorite of mine; it's a beautiful creek.
When you decide to leave,
Mystery Hole loop: This is the short, easy, paved version of the Cotton Hill Scenic Drive.
You'll need all your own gear on the New River
American Whitewater's website includes links to local river info.
On their West Virginia page, first look at the river level legend at the top of the page, then scroll down to the "New" (River) entries, and click on the links to info on the river's various sections. Clicking on a section link brings up detailed, current info on that section, and links to the Park Service's Guide To Paddling the New River and to their Map of the New and Gauley Rivers.
The map will help you find your put-in and take-out points.
"Each run is a different river." In other words, what is easy water at one rate of flow can be a whole different ballgame when the river is lower or higher. Use your best judgement both in choosing which section to run, by scouting questionable rapids, and then by portaging where prudent for you to do so.
Here are the sections listed:
1. WV/VA State line to Bull Falls Campground
2. Bluestone Dam to Sandstone
3. Sandstone to McCreery
4. McCreery to Thurmond
5. Thurmond to Cunard
6. New River Gorge: Cunard to Fayette Station
7. New River Dries: Hawks Nest Dam to Gauley Bridge
KAYAKERS: Considering driving distance and technical difficulty, I recommend you consider sections 3, 4, and 5, unless you are a highly skilled paddler, in which case you could also consider sections 6 and 7. Each section has its own character, and the descriptions given are clear and concise.
CANOEISTS: Consider the tamest sections only -- Section 5 would be best (with a portage around Surprise rapid)
For a soothing flatwater-only experience, Summersville Lake is a great place to paddle.
The "shoreline" is largely vertical sandstone cliff. There are also hiking and biking opportunities, and Civil War sites too.
This part of West Virginia is mainly "hills and hollers", so you'll definitely use those lower gears. The shoulders on many of our roads are narrow and often not well-maintained. Also, many country roads - including most of the following route - are two-way, but only one lane. So keep your wits about you, and wear something bright up top.
Back way to Fayetteville: Fayetteville is worth a visit, and a bike ride along Laurel Creek is a picturesqe way to get there. Get on your bike, leave the park and head down the hill. Turn R at the stop sign (mile 0.0) and you're heading toward the Animal Control Center, with Laurel Creek on your left. At the Center, turn L, still following the creek. Reach a stop sign at 2.4 miles - there's a tall rusty structure to your left. Turn L. From this point, it's a moderate, but not steady, climb to US-19 (6.2 miles). Cross 19 and continue to a T at Fayetteville High (6.6 miles), where you'll turn L and cruise into Fayetteville. Just befor you reach the light you'll pass Daniel's Market.
The return leg is up to you. I recommend retracing your route. It's pretty, a lot of downhill, and the alternative is less safe IMO. Route 16 (which is how you got to the County Park in the first place) down to Beckwith has many curves and bad shoulders - creating real wreck potential if you need to get over at the wrong moment for a driver going 55. If you do decide to go that way, take it easy going down hill and keep your ears wide open, especially in blind curves. Don't assume drivers will be looking out for you, because they won't be.
Be safe: biking buddy highly recommended! Bring food and especially water.
If you need to rent a mountain bike, get to New River Bike in Fayetteville
Here's a Park Service page containing info on four popular Gorge mountain biking biking trails with driving directions and trail descriptions.
Bridge Haven Golf Club is an 18-hole public course with a snack bar, driving range, club/cart rentals, and weather permitting, a putting green is available.
Call: (304) 574-2120 for tee times.
This mine tour would be a natural to combine with a visit to Tamarack, since they're in the same general area.
The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine offers visitors a realistic look at coal mining as it was at the turn of the century, both [way] underground and in the coal camp above. It's worth doing!
To get there: