Blackwater Falls State Park is part of the West Virginia Parks System. Located in the Allegheny Mountains surrounded by the Monongahela National Forest, it has waterfalls, forests, and a gorgeous river valley. The park boasts water activities, 20 miles of hiking trails, and sledding in the winter. We liked the trails with waterfall views, wooded campground, and nearby dog friendly brewery.
Blackwater Falls State Park is located in Davis, WV about four hours northwest of Richmond. Our drive west on I-64 and up to Harrisonburg on I-81 was easy. From there it was all smaller roads with lots of beautiful views. Crossing mountains in West Virginia there were lots of windmills on the ridges with their mesmerizing rotations. We went at the end of October and while the leaves were past their peak, there was still plenty of pretty colors to see. Blackwater Falls is about three hours from D.C. and Pittsburg, two hours from Harrisonburg, and four hours from Roanoke. Admission to the park is free!
I highly recommend going in October to see the leaves. We also did a Saturday – Monday trip. Sunday the campground emptied and the park was extra quiet that evening.
You can’t come to Blackwater Falls State Park and not see Blackwater Falls. The boardwalks to the falls were a short walk from the campground – there’s also parking lots right there. As you walk down, a lot of the wood is slippery. Since this is the namesake of the park, this is also a busy area. That being said, the falls were roaring and beautiful. We even caught a small rainbow as the sun shined down!
We drove to the other side of the river and parked at Blackwater Lodge. Behind the lodge overlooks the river valley and the views were awesome. Had the ground not been squishy with mud, this would be a perfect picnic spot. Also here is the entrance to the Elakala Trail. This moderate, short trail runs along a the canyon rim of a small river that dumps into the Blackwater River. The trail runs over Elakala Falls, then turns to have a view of the falls. While significantly smaller than Blackwater Falls, I much preferred these falls because the trail through the woods was lovely and basically empty.
Blackwater Falls State Park has a 65 site campground all with electric hookups. Sites are spread over two loops, with a bathhouse in the middle of each loop. The loops are large enough that the inside loop spots aren’t right on top of each other. The campground was mostly open land with the outside loop sites backing up to trees. The bathhouses were pretty standard and each site had a picnic table and fire ring.
We booked site 21, and I enjoyed the location tucked away at the back of the campground on the outside loop. Due to rain that week it was pretty muddy and our dog kept rolling. No one wants a muddy dog in the van! Sunday we asked the park office and switched to site 47 that sits a bit higher and wasn’t muddy. Sunday night after the campground mostly emptied out a buck strolled right through our campsite to scavenge around the campground.
Nothing beats a beer after a hike. We headed into Thomas, WV (<10 min drive) to Mountain State Brewing Co. for a flight of beers. Dogs are allowed inside and that made us all comfortable while we hung out. All of our beers were pretty good, no frills styles. I enjoyed their red lager called Otter Creek and we brought some cans of that home.
Before leaving Monday morning we had breakfast at Tip Top Coffee Co. (also less than 10 min drive).
The coffee and pepperoni rolls for breakfast. The cafe has a selection of unique food items, beer, and crafts. We ate outside across the street by the river so Gimli could hang out with us. First thing on a Monday morning it was a quiet and peaceful way to start the day before driving home.