Thursday, July 8, 2021
Wednesday was our last day at our newest national park so we tried to be sure we had done the most important items on the long list of opportunities in the park. We began the day heading back to the northern end of the park. We stopped to get a biscuit for breakfast at a regional chain Tudor’s Biscuit World. Very good and very large biscuits. From there we went to our main hike of the day, Long Point. It’s only about1 ¾ mile hike but the payoff at the end is another great view of the bridge and the gorge. At the start of the trail there is a crushed stone section but it quickly changes to the all too familiar rocks, roots and rhododendrons. It’s classified as a moderate hike but we would really call it pretty easy except for the scramble up and down to Long Point at the very end. The beautiful panoramic views of the gorge and the bridge make this another must do hike.
After a last quick stop at the Canyon Rim Visitors Center, we headed south to the Sandstone area of the park. We did have to make one quick stop at Dairy Queen because we had just completed a hike. Our visit to the Sandstone Visitor Center meant we visited all four of the New River Gorge visitor centers. There was another short film to watch and of course we stamped our passport book. The Sandstone Falls are one of the attractions in this area of the park so we drove toward Hinton to the Overlook to take a look. Unfortunately with the trees in full leaf, there was not much to see but a few small glimpses of the falls. So we drove on towards Hinton which is another interesting community at the bottom of the gorge. On the drive down to the bottom you have the mountain immediately to the left of the road, the railroad track immediately to the right and immediately to the right of the track there is a small sliver of land where the homes are built. When we finally reached the bottom of the gorge there is a larger than expected although still small quaint little town of Hinton with several interesting shops and restaurants. After a drive back up the other side of the river we finally came to the Sandstone Falls. At only about 30 feet, they aren’t nearly as high as many we have seen but there still very pretty falls reaching all the way across the river. There was also another nice little boardwalk hike to reach the viewpoint of the falls. Rain was on the way and so we headed back to the truck and then back to Fred.
So, how did we feel about our newest national park? We had a great experience enjoying more of God’s creation. We arrived midday Monday and spent 2 ½ active days in the there. For us this was just about the right amount of time to get a really good feel for the park. We did not have time to some of the longer or more strenuous hikes. If you are primarily looking to drive to the sights, you could probably see most of the high points in about 1 ½ days. The gorge is a beautiful area that we are thankful the NPS is working to preserve. We hope to take a train ride through the gorge on a fall visit in the next year or two.