1-3 May 2020  
16TH Annual 

Whitewater Whirl!

a mini dance vacation in WV's New River Gorge Scenic Recreation Area

Home > Adventures > Self-guided adventures

Self-guided adventures


Self-guided adventures on this page include:

  • Fayetteville - exploring the town
  • Shopping and Dining - in the area
  • Birding - great time of year for viewing
  • Hiking / Walking / Driving Around - the New River Gorge area
  • Saturday Drives - outside the New River Gorge area
  • Kayaking / Canoeing - on the New River
  • On-road biking - suggested routes
  • Mountain biking - suggested routes
  • Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine - tour
  • Golf - nearby course

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. 



Shopping and Dining

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:

  • Head to Fayetteville, take a right at the light at US-19. 
  • Keep going S, you'll see a sign for the TOLL ROAD -- go that way.
  • After going through the booth, the Tamarack exit is just ahead.

Hiking / Walking / Driving Around

Other "Saturday drives"

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.

  • Turn R out of the County Park Road and proceed to US-19. (Fayetteville is dead ahead.) 
  • Turn left at US-19, cross the New River Gorge Bridge, and take your first right, which is the Park Service exit.
  • Turn R and enter the Canyon Rim Visitors Center lot. Check this place out thoroughly, inside and out on the short overlook trails. Pick up a trail map at the counter if you like.
  • Then, hop back in your car, exit the lot, turn right, pass the souvenir shop, and take an impossibly hard R downhill. You're on Fayette Station Rd., or Rt. 82. 
  • Wherever you have a choice thereafter, head downhill, and you'll reach the bottom of the Gorge.
  • Cross the Fayette Station bridge; it's a near-replica of the one taken down a few years ago.
  • You can pull over and park once you've crossed, and walk back onto the bridge.
  • Look downstream - that's the Fayette Station rapids. It's fun to watch rafters and kayakers run that rapid, and you may see a few, depending on when you arrive - later is better.
  • To get right down on the New River for a great view, drive downstream a short distance until you reach a fork.
  • Left will take you back out of the Gorge. (Don't turn around! Fayette Station Road is one way!)
  • Instead of taking that left just yet, continue straight over a small wooden bridge and on into the parking lot. Get out, and look toward the river. You're looking at a belt of trees. Thread your way through those trees, taking whatever path you find.
  • You'll have to climb over a few boulders before you reach the water, where you'll see the rapid.
  • Find yourself the perfect boulder, sit and enjoy the BIG water. Eat lunch if you have it, or save it for later.

Okay, you're ready to leave the river ... cross that little wooded bridge again and turn right.

Hiking option: 

  • Up the gorge aways on the left is the Kaymoor Trail.  It's an easy but great 2-mile walk (one way) to the remains of the old Kaymoor Mine complex, which alone is good enough reason to take this pleasant walk. 
  • The trailhead is on your L at a sharp R bend; pull over to the left and park well off the road. There was a monster flood here a few years ago and it utterly altered the terrain at this trailhead. (That's WolfCreek by the way.)
  • Enjoy your walk along this old mining bench - a road cut into the side of the gorge face to access the mines and to transport the coal out. Amazing. While you're at the mine site, find the descending stairs. This is the STAIRMASTER FROM HELL. If your knees give you trouble, don't even think about it. But hey, you're a dancer!
  • Otherwise, enjoy the descent to the river, keeping in mind you'll have to climb out again eventually. 
  • You'll also see a sign for the Kaymoor Miner's Trail. It's a mile of steep trail, many switchbacks, difficult for sure, that the miners who lived in the community called Kamoor Top used to walk twice daily to and from work.
  • I can't imagine climbing THAT at the end of a hard day in the mines. Try a bit of it, and see what you think.
  • The main Kaymoor Trail goes another 6 miles past the mine, so go as far as you want, then retrace your route.
  • Continuing up and out of the Gorge, you'll come out back on US 19, but back on the Fayetteville side of the "Big Bridge" again.  You could 
(1) cross 19 to take the back way into Fayetteville, Keller Ave. -- you'll pass New River Bike and DiOGi's (great Mexican and more). Then, either turn L to go into Fayetteville - well worth a visit - or R, which will take you to the light at 19.  Go through the intersection to get back to WW.   or
(2) When you come out of the Gorge, just turn right onto 19, go to the Fayetteville light, turn right, and you're heading back down to The Whirl. (I didn't tell you how to get to the Beauty Mountain overlook, but you can always find me (Gary Reynolds) and I'll provide directions.)

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

  • Get to Junction of US-60 and US-19. If you're starting from the County Park, leave the Park, turn R, and head up to Fayetteville.
  • Cross the median at US-19 and turn left, and proceed up to US-60. Exit 19, and take a left at the end of the ramp to head toward Rainelle.
  • Follow this road to Rt. 41, and turn R.
  • When 41 and 60 split, turn R, staying on 41.
  • Pass Clifftop Loop Road on R and continue to the main entrance of Babcock State Park.
  • Drive to the bottom of the hill and park. if its lunch time, pick a spot where you like the view and enjoy.

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, 

  • head back up the hill, passing a left down to a cabin area, and take the next left. This is the service road that will take you to the Manns Creek cabin area and on to the campground.
  • Exit the campground onto Old Clifftop Road. From here, you can turn right and drive to the Art Gallery, which you'll find on the left at an intersection. David Weaver and his family are all accomplished artists, and David's Flemish School-type painting is well know and admired.
  • Backtrack and stay on Old Clifftop Road (careful, it winds and is narrow) until it ends at Rt. 60.
  • Continue ahead back to Rt 19, where you cross over the highway and get in the left lane to get on 19 S, which will take you back to Fayetteville.
  • Turn right at the light to return to Whitewater Whirl, or go left into Fayetteville.

Mystery Hole loop: This is the short, easy, paved version of the Cotton Hill Scenic Drive.

  • Leave the County Park and turn L onto RT 16.

  • Go through Beckwith to Chimney Corners; 
  • Turn R on US-60 (unless you're going to do the Grist Mill loop; see below) and go to US-19; then S toward Fayetteville.
  • If you haven't already: once you pass the Ames Heights/Lansing-Edmond exits (they're across the highway from one another), get in the left lane and exit left at the Park Service's Canyon Rim Visitor's Center. 
  • If you miss the exit, you're now on the bridge. Just go to the light at Fayetteville and turn around. 


Kayaking / Canoeing - On the New River

Paddling on Summersville Lake

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)

In terms of distance from the Whirl, here is the section order, beginning with the nearest section: 6, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

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.

Lake page on SummersvilleWV.com


On-Road Biking

Mountain Biking

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

  • Leave WW and turn right toward Fayetteville.
  • At the light, continue up the hill.
  • When you get to a hard left at a stone/wood flower planter (Keller Ave.), turn L and park anywhere on the left.
  • You'll see Pies & Pints (great beer and pizza) and New River Bike.

Here's a Park Service page containing info on four popular Gorge mountain biking biking trails with driving directions and trail descriptions.



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 theater (depending on what's going on when you are there). Plus, they feature THE BEST cafeteria food you’ll EVER have, at great prices. 

To get there: Head to Fayetteville, take a right at the light at US-19, and keep going until you begin seeing the distinctive Tamarack signs, which you just follow.

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine


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.


  • Head to Fayetteville, cross 19, go through town center (2 lights), and continue past the downtown.
  • At Sherry's Beer City (on right) take the left fork, which is Gatewood Road.
  • Continue about 3.5 miles and turn left at Elverton Road, then left again at Browns Road.
  • Bridge Haven will be on your left. Fore!

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:

  • Go to the Fayetteville light at US-19 and turn right (South). 
  • Go about 16 miles to Beckley.
  • Take the US-19 S/WV-16 ramp toward NORTH BECKLEY/BRADLEY.
  • Turn LEFT onto WV-16 S. and go 4.8 miles.
  • Turn RIGHT and just ahead, take a SLIGHT LEFT onto ADAIR ST.
  • Then just ahead, Turn LEFT onto EWART AVE. End at 513 Ewart Ave.


Update: 2014-01-23