Though I’ve hiked, biked, and caved a few places before the Blackwater Canyon Trail, this is the earliest adventure that I have photos from. No worries- a few more posts of this trail with more photos will follow. This is one of my most visited trails- read on and you’ll see why!
These photos were taken on June 20, 2011. It had stormed relentlessly the night before and the trail definitely showed it. At some points, we were biking through nearly a foot of water!
We began our biking trip in Thomas, WV, right below the main road. The trail is a gentle gravel grade and passes by the historic school. After biking through a wooded area, you’ll cross a paved road and head back onto gravel. Soon, you’ll be able to see the coke ovens lining each side of the trail. Coke ovens were used to “bake” the oxygen out of coal before it was sent out for use.
Our photographer didn’t know how to operate my DSLR…whoops. Anyway, it’s easy to climb inside (carefully, so you don’t disturb the brick) and have a peek around. This one had a deer skull inside. The ovens now have an interpretive sign about their history and use.
After passing the coke ovens, you’ll happen upon Albert Falls. Usually, there’s a nice swimming hole under the not-too-intense falls; however, due to the storms the night before, the ground we were biking on was thundering from the force of the waterfall below the trail.
The trail follows the river before they split for a short time. Off to the left along the stream is a small camping area where someone has left tin-can candles. You’ll go around a Forest Service gate and immediately hear the roar – Douglas Falls is right around the corner. There’s a small, washed out footpath from the Blackwater Canyon Trail down to the falls. It’s possible to walk behind the falls when the water’s lower- but the falls were thunderous due to the downpours hours before we arrived on the trail.
We were amazed at how powerful the falls seemed. The trail maintains a slight downhill grade at this point (your bike can mostly just coast along) and the river dips far below the trail into the canyon. Not long after, you’ll run into an overlook. You can see Lindy Point if you’re really paying attention. The trail winds on around the ridge after this point and looks like this much of the way (though, usually not so wet):
It’s an easy coast downhill through this section. You’ll pass tons of small waterfalls on the hillside, especially in the spring when the snow has melted or after a heavy storm. We passed so many waterfalls that I couldn’t even stop to photograph all of them. The grade of the trail will eventually level out and you’ll reach the town of Hendricks. From here, you can continue on to the Allegheny Highlands Trail, which will take you through the towns of Parsons, Montrose, Kerns, Gilmore, and finally ends in Elkins.