Canaan Valley: The Complete Visitors’ Guide
Just a short drive from Mountaineer Country lies Canaan Valley, an outdoorsman’s playground. This expansive valley covers Parsons, Davis, and Thomas, West Virginia, and is covered with forests and wetlands. Canaan attracts experienced thrill seekers and leisurely adventurers alike to bike, hike, ski, and so much more. Whether you are planning a day trip or a week in this lush valley, there are endless activities for everyone to enjoy. If thrill-seeking isn’t for you, don’t worry! There are plenty of stunning views to keep you busy.
Canaan Valley has an abundance of sights that are a must-see. Canaan Valley holds some of the most photographed places in West Virginia, so it doesn’t matter if you are a professional or casual “Instagrammer,” you won’t want to leave your camera (or iPhone) at home.
Blackwater Falls State Park
Blackwater Falls is the most photographed waterfall in all of West Virginia, and there is no question as to why. This stunning waterfall cascades 57 feet and is open year-round with plenty of different lookouts to see these magnificent falls from all different angles.
Lindy Point is also located in Blackwater Falls State Park and gives more views of the park and valley. Lindy looks down on the Blackwater Canyon from over 3,000 feet and is just a short half-mile walk from the parking lot. This is the perfect spot to watch the sunrise and set over the Canaan Valley.
Elakala Falls is a conjunction of four waterfalls found inside the state park accessible by trail. A portion of the falls sits under a wooden bridge where you can view the falls cascading down and over rocks for 20 feet.
While there are many other lookout points in Blackwater Falls State park, these ones are sure to pique your interest and be the perfect addition to your adventure memory albums.
Canaan Valley Resort State Park
As one of West Virginias largest state parks, Canaan Valley State Park not only offers several outdoor activities spanning all seasons, but it also provides visitors with aerial views of the valley. During the skiing off-season, the ski lift is open for guests to take rides to reach the top of the mountain to observe the abundant greenery in the summer or the crimson colors in the fall!
Hiking & Biking
If mountain biking, trail riding, and hiking are your speed, there are plenty of locations for you to choose from in Canaan! One trail location is Canaan Valley State Park which is full of 18 miles of trails for you to hike or bike on. There is no shortage of beauty on these trails where you’ll find flourishing forests, wildlife, and meadows. If you are a first-time hiker or biker, there are guides available to accompany you on your adventure through the woodlands.
Not far from the park is the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge, which is covered with trails and some paved roads for those who prefer street biking. There are 22 miles of trail open for mountain biking, but street bikes can be taken on any roads that run through the refuge. As for hiking, there are a few more trails available to explore. If you are looking for a moderate walk or a challenge, you will find it within the 29 miles of trails.
One of the most extended stretches of biking trails is the Allegheny Highlands Rail Trail. While it is entirely in Canaan Valley, it does run through it for a few miles. If you are entering the trail in Parsons, you can take a 21-mile ride along the rail through paved and gravel trails down to the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. This trail is stocked with stunning woodlands and fields with other trailheads, maps, and parking along the way.
Blackwater Falls is not only filled with raging water and pristine forests but it also is embedded with trails for adventurous bikers and hikers. As far as paved trails go, Blackwater Canyon Rail Trail is a 10-mile stretch that starts in Thomas and runs through the Blackwater Canyon. You will be awed by the depth of the canyon and its historical features of coke ovens, which were used in the mining days to remove all of the impurities from the coal, and bridges that you will come across on your journey. In addition to paved trails, the state park features an array of mountain biking all with different difficulty levels for you to choose from. Blackwater Falls is open year-round for hikers to delve into the majestic beauty that is the falls in all seasons. The park has over 20 miles of trails to be discovered and is also open for some snow sports in the winter months.
Looking to visit Canaan in the winter? Don’t worry. There are plenty of outdoor activities to participate in during the snowy months. If you are a daredevil and enjoy skiing, Canaan Valley Resort and Timberline Mountain are covered in trails for you to catch some fresh powder. Canaan Valley Resort has 47 trails for downhill skiers and snowboarders with a variety of difficulty levels and a terrain park for adrenaline junkies. Timberline Mountain is located in Davis and has a 1,000-foot drop home to a terrain park and plenty of trails.
For those seeking a less intense ski trail, there are endless cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. White Grass is one of the best cross-country ski resorts and offers more than 35 miles of cross-country ski trails with snowshoeing-only trails also available. Blackwater Falls also has more than 10 miles of cross-country and snowshoeing trails for you to get a glimpse of the walls during the frigid months. The Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge is also open year-round where their hiking trails are transformed by the snow into 31 miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
For skiless winter fun, Blackwater Falls State Park and Canaan Valley Resort have you covered! A brisk quarter mile down, the Blackwater Falls Sled Run is the longest on the East Coast. Canaan Valley Resort has one of the longest tube runs in the Mid-Atlantic perfect for making memories with families and friends. They also have a covered ice skating rink set in between the mountains, which gives an unbeatable view.
The fishing in Canaan is outstanding, and you will want to take part. Be sure to bring your fishing license! Some of the top spots to fish are the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge, Pendleton Lake, and the Blackwater River. The Wildlife Refuge is open to all, but a state license is required to fish in their many different waterways. Pendleton Lake is home to bass, bluegill, catfish, and trout for you to catch. The Blackwater River is stocked with trout, regularly, in the spring and summer months. Pendleton Lake and Blackwater River are also part of the WV Gold Rush which takes place from March 28 – April 8, 2023. During the Gold Rush, West Virginia DNR stocks lakes and rivers with 50,000 golden trout.
All types of boating can be done in Canaan Valley from kayaking to paddle boards and white water rafting. Blackwater Falls State Park has some great areas available for boating at Pendleton Lake. Kayak, canoe, paddleboat, and paddleboard rentals are available so you can travel light and not worry about bringing your own gear. The Cheat River also has a water trail perfect for dropping in innertubes and floating down the river or to kayak and canoe in. If you are looking for a bit more thrill, the Cheat River also offers the option of white water rafting, and Blackwater Outdoor Adventures is the place to go for your guided tours.
Canaan Valley Resort is home to a pristine golf course, ranked eleventh in the state. This groomed course is perfect for all skill levels to practice and improve. The 18-hole, 72-par course is capped with obstacles of bunkers and water to test your skills. This course has all the amenities of a clubhouse with food and beverage, a pro shop, and rentals.
Places to Stay
Set up camp, and stay awhile at one of the many campgrounds within the Canaan Valley. If you are looking to camp a short distance from all your outdoor activities, the West Virginia State Parks have you covered. At Canaan Valley State Park Resort, there are 34 paved, wooded sites, with full hookups, and all facilities and amenities are at your fingertips. One of the major perks of this campground is its proximity to the hiking and biking trails. If you are wanting to stay in Blackwater Falls State Park, they have a 65-unit tent and trailer campground, which all come with electric hookups and include all the amenities of the campground.
The campgrounds in the state parks do fill up fast, but do not worry! There are plenty of other options for you. Not too far away, in Parsons is Five River Campground. This campground sits on the banks of the Shavers Fork River and is just two blocks away from the Allegheny Highlands Rail Trail. They cater to all kinds of campers with 138 full hookup RV and camper sites as well as tons of primitive tent sites scattered throughout. Five River is not only a perfect place for explorers, but it is also home to Pickin’ In Parsons, an annual Bluegrass Festival.
Also in Parsons is Blackwater Outdoor Adventures Campground, a more suitable option for primitive campers. This campground has 10 acres of riverfront tent camping available along with a 100-year-old farmhouse transformed into a gift shop and meeting house. Blackwater Outdoor Adventures is not just a hub for camping but also provides rentals for boating and shuttles to go up the river for white water rafting on Cheat Lake.
Kick your camping experience up a notch with cabins available for rent in both Blackwater State Park and Canaan Valley State Park. If you want to venture out, there are a few other options for you to choose from. Some of the top spots include Best of Canaan and Black Bear Resort. Best of Canaan has several different vacation rentals scattered throughout Canaan Valley and Davis so you be close to the adventure of your choice. Black Bear Resort is open all seasons and has different vacation homes and rental cabins to meet your needs and family size. It has the perfect location located near both state parks, Doly Sods, Monongahela National Forest, Seneca Rocks, and so much more.
Hotels & Inns
There are plenty of places to stay in Canaan Valley, including bed and breakfasts, hotels, and inns. You’ll find that each of them has its own unique amenities. Bright Morning Inn is located in downtown Davis, a central location to all of the scenic views and outdoor activities that might pique your interest. This comfortable inn offers regular rooms and a guest house for larger parties traveling together. If you want to stay in the state parks, both Canaan Valley State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park have lodges for travelers to reside in that are in close proximity to all of the adventures that await. Other options include:
We hope you choose to visit Canaan Valley and we can’t wait to see where your adventures take you!