Best multi-day camp-and-trek trail trips
Trace some of the nation’s most atmospheric and historic camp-and-trek trails.
In West Virginia, picturesque footpaths take you past historic towns, heath landscapes and atmospheric railroads.
Here’s a list of the best multi-day trail trips:
1. Appalachian Trail
At 2,160 miles long, this famous footpath gives you lots of territory to cover. But you’ll want to hang around West Virginia, especially because of Harpers Ferry. This little cliffside town has plenty of ambience, from its perch overlooking the rock-strewn Potomac River to its historic Civil War-era homes.
From there, walk 10.4 miles to Gathland State Park. Along the way, you’ll get to climb Weverton Cliffs and peer down at the river.
Pull off and spend the night, or double back to Harpers Ferry and sleep in town.
2. Allegheny Trail
Along the way, you’ll see farms, creeks and various fishing spots for trout. Glady Fork River is especially picturesque.
3. North Bend Rail Trail
History and mystery give this hike plenty of atmosphere.
Its 72 miles cover tons of intriguing points, like old rail tunnels, historic inns and factories. A few passages are supposedly haunted! Of 10 accessible tunnels left behind from a 19th-century railroad company, one is even “raw”— it cuts through 337 feet of rock.
Ready? Start in Petersburg and end at Wolf Summit. Grouse and deer might keep you company. Stop into towns like Cairo and Salem, which have restaurants and shops near the trail.
4. American Discovery Trail
The North Bend Rail Trail is a section of the longer American Discovery Trail (ADT). Stretching more than 6,800 miles from California to Delaware, the American Discovery Trail is the only coast-to-coast non-motorized recreational trail in the country.
The ADT enters West Virginia at Parkersburg and passes through Grafton before veering north and exiting the state at Green Spring in the Eastern Panhandle. It actually merges with 3 other West Virginia trails, too: the Harrison County Rail Trail, the Dryfork Rail Trail and the Allegheny Trail.
There is plenty to see along the way, as the ADT passes through or near a number of scenic, historic and recreational sites, including Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, the Philippi Covered Bridge, Smoke Hole Caverns and the Dolly Sods Wilderness. You can pitch your tent in the Monongahela State Forest or at a number of state parks along the way, including North Bend, Tygart Lake, Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls.
5. Greenbrier River Trail
Crave rural scenery? Try this trail that follows the river for most of its 78 miles. Quiet pastures, thick woods, rustic bridges and historic railroad tunnels add pleasing variety to the trip.
We suggest you head south towards the little town of Clover Lick. Its aged train depot makes a great photo. Then, walk to Marlinton for lunch or spend the night at a B&B. Your trip ends in Lewisburg, a charming town packed with boutiques, antique shops and cafes.
6. West Fork Trail
This sweet journey pops with rustic delights. The 22 miles between Glady and Durbin are steeped in railroad history— old train ballast covers the paths, and old tracks cross an occasional bridge.
You’ll also follow the river and even spot some cascades when the trail crosses High Falls. When you finish in Durbin, hang out at one of the local restaurants before riding the the Durbin Rocket, an old steam locomotive.
7. Dolly Sods Wilderness
Do you really want to disappear into the wild? Look no further than Dolly Sods, a primordial backland brimming with arctic scenery: ancient bogs, stunted pines and odd boulders sculpted by mountain blasts. You may even spot some of the carnivorous plants that call this mysterious place home.
If you’re game, 47 miles of discreet trails are at your disposal.
8. Kanawha Trace
Flatboatmen used this historic route to the Kanawha Valley when they came back from selling goods on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The 32-mile long Kanawha Trace (KT) runs from Barboursville where the Mud and Guyandotte rivers meet to Fraziers Bottom on the Kanawha River.
The KT winds over wooded hillsides, past rushing streams and through pastoral countryside where cattle and horses graze. It’s quiet and pretty, but never far from civilization. You can set up camp at one of 2 shelters along the route, or pitch a tent in a big field by the old schoolhouse near mile 20.
With the exception of a few public roads, the KT is on private lands. The trail is maintained by the local Boy Scout troop. Get parking and trail access at Camp Arrowhead near the southern terminus.
Which long-distance trail are you doing to try?