Fall In Love With West Virginia On The Sandstone Falls Trail In New River Gorge National Park

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West Virginia really surprised me. I really knew nothing about West Virginia before going there.

Those things were Mothman, a landlocked lighthouse, Hillbilly Elegy (which is actually Ohio and I didn’t know that until a couple months later, check out this book, too), and I think that’s it.

Well, West Virginia knows how to impress. At least the part that we saw in New River Gorge National Park.

We did two hikes here and today is all about the Sandstone Falls trail, which I loved! If it’s not already on your bucket list, it should be now.

Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia

Wee tried to see it at the very end of our full day there but only made it to the overlook then. We decided to cut our losses and head back since it would be too dark once we got there.

I resigned myself to just not seeing it but I decided we would go in the morning before we left and I’m so glad we did!

We set off on the drive to the trailhead which feels unnecessarily long because you go in and out one way but it was right along the river which was really nice.

Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia

After finally making it to the trailhead, we set off on the trail which is primarily a boardwalk, which if you’ve been here a while, you know I love.

It’s a short walk to the first Sandstone Falls view which is nice, but it gets better if you keep going.

The first couple of views along the trail are sort of rocky beaches and we saw a guy fishing across from us.

While the official trail ends there we kept going making out way across streams, doing some rock hopping to get there.

new river gorge west virginia

There are a couple of other smaller waterfalls along the way, tucked into all the foliage. I think seeing these other ones just made me like it even more. I’m not sure exactly how far it is to the end right by the falls but I’m guessing 0.25 miles.

Finally, we made it to the end and got a front row seat to enjoy Sandstone Falls in all its glory.

I want to say it was peaceful out there, but you know, there’s a rushing waterfall right next to you. And even though the water is rushing there, it is peaceful in it’s own way.

Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia

It was so nice just sitting out there enjoying the river and mountains but we had to get on our way sooner or later so off we went on our way to Virginia.

I am so glad I decided this was a must-see because it really is. It’s a great easy trail and you get to see one of the best and biggest (almost 1500 feet wide) waterfalls in West Virginia.

National Park Goodies

Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia
Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia

Where is the Sandstone Falls trailhead?

From Beckley, which is where we stayed, it is about 50 minutes to the trailhead. This route doesn’t take you past the overlook though.

I would recommend going to the Overlook then to the trailhead because it’s shorter that way. From the Sandstone Falls overlook it’s about 30 more minutes to the Sandstone Falls trailhead.

It’s a well marked trailhead and parking are but it is kind of annoying to get to just because it’s way down the New River Road and you can only get there (and out) one way.

Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia

Where is the Sandstone Falls Overlook?

Again, from Beckley, the Sandstone Falls Overlook is about a 30 minute drive down I-64. Take exit 139 and follow it about five miles down WV 20.

There is also a visitor center at this exit but it was closed when we were there. That was to the right at the exit, the overlook is left.

There is a parking area and a short walk down to the overlook. If you’re short on time this is a good way to still see it but it’s so much better actually going down to it.

Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia

How long is the Sandstone Falls trail?

The Sandstone Falls boardwalk is 0.5 miles round-trip. It’s a super easy walk but you can go further if you’re comfortable walking on occasionally wet and uneven rocks.

So if you go past it all the way to the end by the falls I’d say it’s maybe a mile round-trip, if that.

new river gorge west virginia

Is the Sandstone Falls trail hard?

No! It’s mostly boardwalk and a little dirt towards the end of the official trail.

After that you can walk on the rocks and stuff out closer to the falls which I would definitely recommend if you’re comfortable maneuvering around on possibly wet and uneven rock.

If you do go to the end near the falls, BE CAREFUL! Don’t get too close to the edge and don’t go all the way out there if you’re not comfortable with it. No shame in turning around.

Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia

What to bring on the Sandstone Falls hike

Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side.  They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  Even if it’s not hot you need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch a lot AND it’s reef safe! If you’re sensitive to fragrance though, it’s not a good choice. I also like the same one but specifically for your face.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes, or a visor.  A baseball hat should be fine but I like my giant sun hat, too.

Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are, time of day, and season.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Headlamp – I tend to carry my headlamp around all the time when we’re hiking, just in case. 

Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia
Sandstone falls new river gorge west virginia

Is the Sandstone Falls trail worth it?

Absolutely! You may think eh, it’s a little out of the way, i’ll just skip it. Well, don’t think that! I did but at the last minute decided I really wanted to go and I’m so glad we did!

It was such a nice little hike and it doesn’t take all that long. The drive to it and out of it probably takes longer than the hike.

I also think this is one of the best thing to do in New River Gorge that doesn’t involve a lot of hiking.

Have you hiked the Sandstone Falls trail in West Virginia? What did you think of it? What is your favorite place/thing to do in West Virginia?

4 thoughts on “Fall In Love With West Virginia On The Sandstone Falls Trail In New River Gorge National Park

  1. Always wanted to visit West Virginia in the fall. Must have been beautiful. The river trips there are said to be awesome, great photos and experience. Thanks for the virtual tours.

    1. It was! We were a little early for peak color, but it was still amazing. I’m glad you were at least able to experience it here for now 🙂

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