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Learn about the amazing things you can discover at Valley Falls State Park in Vest Virginia!
West Virginia is full of beautiful state parks that offer miles of hiking trails, scenic views, and summer outdoor activities. Valley Falls State Park, located 20 miles south of Morgantown, is one of our favorite West Virginia State Parks. While living full time in Morgantown, Valley Falls made for a West Virginia perfect day trip!
The cascading waterfalls along Tygart Valley River are the focal point of Valley Falls State Park. Here, visitors can explore the 1200 acres of preserved land that once was home to a thriving community in the 19th century.
Top Things to Do at Valley Falls State Park
History of Valley Falls State Park
Valley Falls State Park is a place of scenic beauty and historical significance.
In the 1830s, W.W. Fetterman acquired the land at Valley Falls and built a lumber mill, which was later followed in 1847 by a grist mill. The falls were a prime location for a mill because of the natural water power from the river. When the Baltimore & Ohio railroad line spaning from Grafton to Wheeling West Virginia was completed in 1853, the community at Valley Falls began to thrive. At it’s peak the grist mill could produce 70 barrels of flour a day! The town had a ferry, post office, shops, a factory, and schools. Unfortunately, in the 1880s, Valley Falls was plagued with natural disasters, which ultimately led to its decline. A fire followed by floods destroyed much of the town. In 1964, the West Virginia state park system acquired the falls and surrounding land and created the Valley Falls State Park.
When visiting the falls, take note of the remnants of the gristmill community. Parallel to the river, you’ll notice there is a small gorge that seems to direct calm water away from the falls. This manmade channel of water was used to power the gristmill! You’ll also see a gristmill stone that was used in the mill and the foundations of two gristmill buildings.
For West Virginia waterfall seekers, Valley Falls is the place to visit! As its name suggests, Valley Falls is home to rushing series of waterfalls.
The falls can be easily accessed from the main parking area by a gravel path. Please do not attempt to cross the railroad tracks directly, as the tracks are still in operation! Use the bridge.
Seasonal fishing is permitted upstream of the main falls at Valley Falls with a valid West Virginia fishing license.
Valley Falls State Park is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a picnicking day trip near Morgantown or Fairmont. Valley Falls is home to plenty of picnic tables, grills, and pavilions. There is also a playground for kids. Picnic areas are easily accessible from the lower parking lot and offer views of the waterfall!
Hiking and Biking Trails
One of the top things to do at Valley Falls is take on the many miles on hiking and biking trails! Valley Falls State Park offers trails of varying difficulty.
The Rhododendron Trail is a 1.8 mile moderate hike that will take you along the perimeter of Valley Falls State Park. Begin you hike at the end of the rightmost parking area (if facing the falls access). This trail begins with some minor elevation change and then begins a climb up the hillside.
During the first half mile of your hike, you’ll walk along the hillside parallel to the Tygart River and railroad tracks. Take in the sounds of rushing water as you pass through the forest.
This trail is an “in and out trail” however it intersects with the Rocky Trail, Wild Turkey, and the Dogwood Trail.
The Rocky Trail is a difficult 2 mile inclined hike. You can start this hike by either starting at the trailhead by the picnic areas or by starting on the Rhododendron Trail and hiking to the intersection. This hike is difficult because with either direction, the hike will be mostly uphill and as the name says, it’s rocky.
Dogwood and Wild Turkey Trails
These two trails are located along the upper ridge of the mountain at Valley Falls State Park. The Dogwood Trail is a difficult 0.8mile hike while the Wild Turkey Trail is a difficult 1.8 mile hike. You can either begin these two trails by starting at the park headquarters access or by hiking either the Rhododendron or Rocky Trails first.
Deer Trail and Red Fox Trail
The Deer Trail (white blazes) can be accessed from two parking areas along the main road that takes you into Valley Falls State Park. The first of the parking areas is located near the entrance of the park. At this pull off on the lefthand side of the road, you can access Deer Trail from the top. Or you can access the Red Cardinal Trail on the right side of the road. If you continue down the hill, the Deer Trail can be accessed from the bottom with another pull off on the left-hand side.
This moderate 2.1-mile hike is about 50% uphill and 50% level hiking. The level section of the trail can be accessed from the lower parking area. This portion of the trail will walk you along the river and railroad tracks. About halfway through your ascent to the top parking area, you will intersect with the Red Fox Trail (orange blazes) which will take you to the Ranger Station parking area at the park gate. This 0.4-mile hike is very steep.
Red Cardinal Trail
As mentioned previously, the Red Cardinal Trail (red blazes) can be accessed from the Deer Trail pull-off area. It can also be accessed if you hike up the Rocky Trail and keep to the right. Depending on which way you go, this will either up a 1 mile uphill
Practical Information for Visiting Valley Falls State Park
Valley Falls is open year-round from 7 am to dusk. The park is gated during closed hours. The park is located 7 miles off of I-79 and 10 miles from Fairmont, West Virginia.
Phone service is limited at Valley Falls so download a park map before you arrive!
No swimming is allowed at Valley Falls due to the dangerous rapids!