West Virginia is home to some of the most beautiful and stunning waterfalls in the Eastern United States. From impressive heights to mesmerizing cascades, the mountain state offers a variety of waterfall types spread out across lush forests and rolling hills. If you’re planning a trip to West Virginia, make sure to include some of these breathtaking waterfalls on your itinerary.
10 Best West Virginia Waterfalls
1. Cathedral Falls
Nestled within the Monongahela National Forest, the gorgeously elegant Cathedral Falls should be at the top of your waterfall bucket list when visiting West Virginia. Plunging 48 feet into a punchbowl formation, this single drop waterfall is truly a majestic sight to behold.
Surrounded by hemlock trees and rhododendron bushes, the falls are easily accessible right off Route 14. Take a short 0.3 mile stroll along compacted gravel and dirt to view the falls up close. Gaze in wonder as the water cascades down the rock face into a circular pool below. Don’t forget your camera – this waterfall is extremely photogenic!
The best time to visit Cathedral Falls is in early spring when snowmelt and rainfall combine to create an impressive flow over the falls. Just remember to take caution when viewing, as the rocks and observation platforms can get quite slick.
2. Blackwater Falls
Named for its unique amber color, Blackwater Falls is one of the most iconic and frequently visited waterfalls in West Virginia. Plunging 62 feet over a sandstone ledge, the falls are located within the spectacular Blackwater Falls State Park.
Several overlooks provide fabulous views of the falls and canyon, including the easily accessible Blackwater Falls Lodge Overlook. For a closer perspective, follow the boardwalk down 80 steps to the base of the falls. The “brown” or amber color comes from tannic acid in fallen hemlock and red spruce needles in the river’s drainage basin.
In winter, Blackwater Falls frequently freezes into a magical frozen waterfall sculpture. The park also features several other cascades, including Elakala Falls, Lindy Point Overlook, and Pendleton Overlook. Don’t miss Blackwater Canyon during your visit!
3. Elakala Falls
Another gem within Blackwater Falls State Park, Elakala Falls is actually a series of four cascading waterfalls carved out of the Blackwater Canyon. The falls range in height from 30 to 45 feet tall. While you can get distant views from overlooks, to see Elakala Falls up close requires a bit of rugged hiking.
The easiest way to access the lower falls is by hiking down the steep Elakala Trail. This strenuous 1.5 mile trail descends 600 feet in elevation past all four falls. Be extremely cautious hiking up and down the trail, using handrails when available. For the more adventurous, rock scrambles off trail can provide heart-pounding views at the brink of the falls.
Alternatively, a distant view of the upper falls can be attained by hiking the Lindy Point Trail. Photograph the horsetail shape cascades tumbling down the canyon. Visit during spring for the highest water flow.
4. High Falls of Cheat
Plunging roughly 25 feet into a punchbowl, the scenic High Falls of Cheat is situated along the Shavers Fork in the Monongahela National Forest. The falls are located within a deep gorge, providing an intimate feel. Ferns and moss coated boulders litter the hillside surrounding High Falls, creating lush green scenery.
A wheelchair accessible boardwalk leads 0.2 miles down to an observation deck overlooking the falls. Continue hiking down the gorge along very steep and slippery stairs to reach the plunge pool at the base. This is a wonderful spot for photos capturing the falling water with fern-filled boulders in the foreground.
The trailhead accessed off Route 28 near the town of Bemis. High Falls is especially photogenic in spring, and also makes a great summer swimming hole. Use extreme caution around the steep, rocky cliffs.
5. Sandstone Falls
On the New River within the New River Gorge National Park, Sandstone Falls is the largest waterfall on the river, spanning 700 feet across. Comprised of a series of stair-step cascades split by small islands, Sandstone Falls tumbles 15 to 20 feet over solid sandstone.
Public access to Sandstone Falls is located along the park’s Arrowhead Trails, near the town of Hinton. A short 0.3 mile walk on a wheelchair accessible boardwalk and trail leads to overlooks of the tumbling cascades. Continue hiking downhill using the steep stairs to access the river’s edge.
The falls are extremely picturesque any time of year, surrounded by lush green forests nestled within the soaring New River Gorge canyon. Summer is a popular time for swimming in the refreshing plunge pools. Use caution near the slippery rocks. And don’t forget your camera!
6. Pipestem Falls
Visually unique, Pipestem Falls spills 30 feet over tan coloredCompose around a single drop
The sandstone falls are located on Pipestem Creek within the Bluestone National Scenic River area. An extremely short hike leads right to the base of the waterfalls from a roadside parking area off Route 20.
The falls themselves almost appear to glow, in contrast to the rich green forest surroundings. Vibrant red and orange sandstone cliffs frame the falling stream. Photograph Pipestem Falls from below for an impressive perspective of the water spilling overhead.
Picnic tables positioned downstream of the waterfall provide a relaxing place for lunch with a water vista. Or simply sit near the plunge pool at the base and listen to the soothing sounds. Pipestem Falls is worth a quick stop when driving scenic Route 20 in southern West Virginia.
7. Babcock State Park Falls
Babcock State Park contains over 4,000 acres of lush forests, trails and the gorgeous Babcock Creek. Within the park are multiple scenic waterfalls cascading over creekside boulders into pools primed for swimming.
The highlights are the Apalachian Power Station Falls and the multi-tiered Manns Creek Falls. Both feature enjoyable hiking trails with views and access to the refreshing plunge pools below the falls. Pack a bathing suit and picnic lunch to fully enjoy Babcock Falls for an afternoon.
When not waterfall watching, be sure to partake in mountain biking, hiking, boating or fishing within the park located just south of the New River Gorge. With over 20 miles of trails, you’ll find plenty of things to keep you busy in Babcock State Park.
8. Valley Falls State Park
Valley Falls State Park is a hidden gem located along the Tygart River. The namesake Valley Falls actually consists of four distinct waterfalls, ranging from 15 to 39 feet tall, within a steep hemlock-lined gorge. Additional cascades further upstream provide even more opportunities to view tumbling water.
A scenic overlook at the end of the Gorge Trail delivers a birds-eye view looking down at the series of stair-step falls. Hike down the steep trail using caution to access the water’s edge below the middle falls.
Swimming is allowed but use extreme care near the swift currents and slippery rocks both above and below the falls. Be sure to look up in awe at the towering river gorge that surrounds Valley Falls.
9. Whitaker Falls
Nestled within the Beaver Creek Wilderness Area, the exceptionally scenic Whitaker Falls plunges 25 feet into a punchbowl carved out of solid rock. Surrounding the waterfall is an amphitheater of lush ferns and rhododendron providing a very intimate feel.
Access this hidden gem by hiking 2 miles upstream along Beaver Creek, beginning from Forest Road 244. The terrain ascends 600 feet following the creek, culminating at the falls. While not tall, Whitaker Falls is considered one of the most beautiful in the state.
Be sure to bring along a waterproof camera case and wide-angle lens to photograph the entirety of the bowl and falling water. Visit Whitaker Falls when rhododendron and mountain laurels are in bloom for ultimate springtime beauty!
10. Falls of Hills Creek
In the Monongahela National Forest, the Falls of Hills Creek actually consists of three distinct cascades tumbling 20 to 25 feet over rock ledges flanked by giant moss and fern covered boulders. This is waterfall photography paradise!
The Lower Falls are located just 0.2 miles uphill from a parking area, with an observation deck offering fabulous views of the horsetail shape cascade. For a closer perspective, use extreme caution while climbing on the wet rocks surrounding the punchbowl.
To view the Middle and Upper Falls requires a bit more hiking, but the scenery along the way is phenomenal. Be sure to allow ample time to leisurely take in the sights and sounds at each of the three falls.
Falls of Hills Creek offers beauty throughout all four seasons and should not be missed when visiting the area near Elkins and Cranberry Mountain Nature Center.
Which Waterfall is Your Favorite?
West Virginia impresses with this extensive collection of noteworthy waterfalls. Spanning from impressive heights to mesmerizing cascades, the mountain state truly offers a little bit of everything when it comes to waterfall diversity and beauty.
Hopefully this list of the top 10 waterfalls provides useful