The Canaan Valley is located in the northeast corner of the Mountain State of West Virginia within close proximity of the states of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Due to it’s location along the Blackwater River and the Allegheny Mountains, it’s an outdoor lovers paradise no matter the season with so many things to see and do!
Blackwater Falls State Park – Named after the 57 foot tall waterfall flowing from the 34 mile long Blackwater River, Blackwater Falls State Park is the top things to do in Canaan Valley. You can view the falls from the east and west. On the west side of the falls there is a boardwalk with 200 steps that will take you to a couple of different viewing platforms that are fairly close to the falls. The current boardwalk was finished in December of 2004 and is the third such boardwalk built, the first of which was built in 1961. Prior to the boardwalk being built, people would have to climb over trees and boulders down the natural path to the falls. Depending on the time of year, the boardwalk could be almost as treacherous as the natural path down to the falls was. I visited in late April and there was a snow storm earlier that week, leading to a very icy, slushy walk down the boardwalk. But the view of the Blackwater Falls was definitely worth it!
On the east side of the falls, the Gentle Trail is a .02 mile out and back trail that is wheelchair accessible. This trail provides a view of the falls from a distance.
While Blackwater Falls are the star of the show at the park, there is also another waterfall, Elakala Falls and beautiful overlooks and viewpoints to see.
Activities in the park in include hiking 20 different trails, swimming, fishing and boating. In the winter, Blackwater Falls State Park is home to the longest sled run on the east coast of the United States.
The park has both cabins and campsites and is a great place to stay in the Canaan Valley.
Canaan Valley Resort State Park – When I visited Canaan Valley, I stayed at the Canaan Valley Resort which is actually located inside one of West Virginia’s largest state parks, Canaan Valley Resort State Park.
Canaan Valley Resort has a lodge, cabins and campsites for guest to stay in. And the great part is you are staying right in the middle of a state park. So right outside the lodge, are 18 miles of hiking trails to explore. The resort even offers guided hikes.
Also available at the resort is a golf course, swimming pool, bike rentals, tennis court, mini golf, horseshoe pits and a scenic chairlift. During the winter there is 47 skiing and snowboarding trails for everyone from beginners to the advanced skier. There is also an outdoor ice skating rink, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails and a snow tubing park.
It’s the perfect all season resort to stay at or visit for the day.
Towns of Davis and Thomas – If you are looking for small town charm, check out the nearby towns of Davis and Thomas. With populations of 600 +/- people in each town, Davis and Thomas are the quintessential small town America. You won’t find the big chain restaurants, coffee shops or stores here, which makes them so great to explore.
While I was in the area and was looking for somewhere for lunch, I came across Picnic in Thomas. This takeout taco spot had amazing reviews, and by amazing I mean people were saying they had the best tacos they have ever eaten anywhere! I knew I had to check it out and I must agree, the tacos were to die for! They are only open Fridays thru Sundays and are takout only. If the weather is nice, there is a beautiful lawn where you can sit and enjoy your tacos. I cannot recommend this place enough!
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge – These 16,000 acres are a great place for wildlife watching, hunting, horseback riding and 20 different hiking trails of all abilities.
Dolly Sods Wilderness – Another great area for hiking is Dolly Sods Wilderness. There are 47 miles of hiking trails. It’s also a great area for camping, hunting and fishing.
Seneca Rocks – Located less than an hour from Canaan Valley is Seneca Rocks. Take a 3 mile round trip hike to an overlook with beautiful views. And if you are feeling more adventurous, this is also a popular rock climbing spot, but make sure to be trained in rock climbing as there have been a number of deaths that have unfortunately occured here. Even if you aren’t up for rock climbing or the hike, the rocks are a beautiful sight to see from down below.
Seneca Caverns – Not far from Seneca Rocks is Seneca Caverns. These caverns are said to be 4.5 million years old and this area is home to some of the most caves in the entire United States. They have been open to the public for cave tours since 1928. Guided tours last an hour thru the caverns that are 165 feet below ground. The tour is a combination of history and information on the cave with some light humor added in, like naming some of the formations found in the cave based on what they look like. It’s definitely a fun tour to take. They also offer gemstone mining, a gift shop, restaurant and picnic area.
How to get to Canaan Valley – Canaan Valley West Virginia can is located about a 3 hour drive from both Washington DC and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Canaan Valley isn’t a very well known tourist area, but it’s definitely worthy of a visit with so many great things to do. I’m very glad I discovered this hidden gem of West Virginia. If you are looking to visit the state of West Virginia, I highly recommend visiting Canaan Valley.
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