Valley Falls State Park: The Complete Visitors’ Guide
Valley Falls State Park is one of two West Virginia State Parks that follow the Tygart Valley River along the border of Marion and Taylor Counties. Located just south of Fairmont, WV, Valley Falls was originally the site of a lumber and grist mill community, who used the river’s current to power their machinery and support their infrastructure.
Valley Falls State Park gets its name from the four cascading waterfalls that follow along the natural bend of the Tygart River. Visitors can gawk at each set of falls from the riverside or by cautiously climbing atop one of the shoreline boulders and rock faces. Today, Valley Falls State Park is open to the public, offering scenic views across 1,145-acres.
Visitors looking to find more adventure along the Tygart Valley River can venture south to the Tygart Lake State Park.
For an almost heavenly outdoor adventure, plan your visit to Valley Falls State Park during leaf peeping season in the fall. Schedule your trip with our guide to the Top Spots for Leaf Peeping in Mountaineer Country
Mountain Biking and Hiking Trails
Photo courtesy of @freeridingwilly
Visitors can choose from any of the eight hiking trails that make up the Valley Falls State Park trail system. The trails vary in difficulty, providing both level paths for beginners and steep climbs for veteran explorers. Hikers looking for a day of adventure can easily follow a path that connects all of the trails, creating a 10-mile continuous loop. Click here to download a complete map of the trails for your next visit.
The trails are also open to mountain biking enthusiasts, offering ravines, long stretches of downhill paths, and switchbacks to keep you on your toes. The recommended route starts with the Rhododendron Trail, continues along each of the trails throughout the park, and finishes off at the Dogwood Connector Trail.
- Deer Trail: Follow the Tygart River upstream as you head out along the Deer Trail. This 2.1-mile trail is a moderate mix of level ground and steep incline, making it the perfect warm-up for any hike.
- Dogwood Trail: This 0.8-mile trail along the northernmost ridge of Valley Falls is an uphill climb that pays off in the end. Hike past scenic views and find easy access to several other trails throughout the park along this difficult trail.
- Red Cardinal Trail: Hop on the Red Cardinal trail from the Dogwood Trail, Wild Turkey Trail, or Deer Trail for an easy 1-mile trail that’s downhill all the way back to the park entrance.
- Red Fox Trail: Watch your step when heading down the steep grade of the 0.35-mile trail. Acting as a connector between the Dogwood Trail and the Deer Trail, the Red Fox Trail intersects with the main road before heading into winding switchbacks down the hillside.
- Rocky Trail: Take a steep detour into the forest along this 1.8-mile trail. Connecting two sections of the Rhododendron Trail, as well as the Wild Turkey and Red Cardinal Trail, the Rocky Trail can easily be added to your trail route for extra difficulty.
- Rhododendron Trail: This 1.9-mile trail follows alongside the Tygart River, first taking hikers past the picturesque waterfalls before entering a moderate climb into the northern portion of the park.
- Tygart Valley (River) Trail: Get an up-close view of the waterfalls that Valley Falls State Park is named for by hiking this moderate 0.2-mile trail. Relatively level, this trail is easy to access from the parking lot.
- Wild Turkey Trail: Make your way to the peak of Valley Falls State Park by hiking the upper ridge along the Wild Turkey Trail. Steep inclines at both the beginning and end make this 1.8-mile trail quite physically demanding.
Anglers can cast their line from along the shores of Valley Falls State Park. Carry down access to the Tygart River can also be found at Camp Towles, just a short drive south of Valley Falls State Park. This warm water area is home to large and smallmouth bass, as well as walleye, carp, catfish, and more. Stop by Dunham’s Sports or McFly Outdoors to stock up on gear and lures before your next trip out to Valley Falls.
Photo Courtesy of @erin_michelle_
Families looking for a laid-back day by the river can visit the playground, located just a short walk away from the day parking. The picnic area and pavilion offer a shaded reprieve for visitors looking to escape the sun and hikers coming back in from the trails.
The walk from the picnic area to the Falls takes visitors briefly over the tracks of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, an active railroad system that carries sight-seers through the hills of West Virginia. Finally, families can find landmarks of the original grist mill throughout the park, offering historical accounts of the community that once stood on the banks of Valley Falls.
Kayakers and paddlers alike are invited to test the waters of the Tygart Valley River that run through Valley Falls State Park. Fast currents and rocky falls make each section of the Valley Falls to Hammond kayaking route a challenge. Rated a class II-IV in difficulty, this 3.4-mile route features three drops: the Valley Falls (class rating IV), the Hamburger Helper (class rating IV+), and the Twist and Shout Takeout.
Thrill-seeking visitors are encouraged to observe the following ground rules with planning their trip to Valley Falls State Park. First, stop by Colfax, WV, to check that the river gage reads below 4.7 ft—this is the level recommended for visitors’ safety. Second, stop by the superintendent’s office located at the put-in location to sign in before you attempt the route. Finally, be mindful to observe designated put in and take out points on river right and to avoid hiking back to your car on river left.
Things to Do Near Valley Falls State Park
Pricketts Fort State Park
Walk through history at the Pricketts Fort State Park, the original home and refuge for early settlers establishing what is now known as Marion County, WV.
Taylor County Adventure Club
Join in on the fun with guided river trips, swimming, zip lines, and more, organized by the Taylor County Adventure Club.
International Mother’s Day Shrine
Recognized as a National Historic Landmark in October 1992, Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church is known as a shrine to all mothers and the “Mother Church” of Mother’s Day. Today the shrine is open to visitors by appointment and may be reserved for weddings and tours.
Grafton National Cemetery
The Grafton National Cemetery is one of two United States Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries in West Virginia, first established in 1867 after the American Civil War.
The Latest Views from Instagram
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you kayak in Valley Falls State Park?
Yes, however, visitors must sign-in at the superintendent’s office before attempting this run due to the large drops and hazards associated with the falls. The office can be found at the put-in coordinates via this link.
Can you fish at Valley Falls State Park?
Yes. There are multiple lakes and streams accessible to fishermen around Valley Falls State Park. Find more great places to fish here.
Can you swim in Valley Falls?
Swimming is not allowed at Valley Falls due to the strong current of the river and rocks along the banks.
Can you camp in Valley Falls State Park?
There is no overnight admittance at Valley Falls State Park. The public entrance is open from 7 AM to dusk each day. Campsites and lodging can be found farther down the river, closer to Tygart Lake State Park.
Can you stay in a cabin in Valley Falls State Park?
While there are no cabins available for overnight rental at Valley Falls State Park, visitors can find lodging at Beech Grove Cabin, located just 30-minutes south.