Discover Scenic Winter WaterfallsDecember 31, 2014
The rush of a tumbling waterfall is a beautiful sight, but these gorgeous cascades have a secret side.
Not only are they beautiful as they flow, they’re also stunning in the winter, when they’re frozen, shimmering and crystalized in mid-fall, or when they’re still pouring, alive amid the white winter scene.
The New River Gorge is full of waterfalls, hidden away in the woods or streaming down just off the side of the winding mountain roads.
Here are a few of the best winter waterfalls to explore when the ice sets in over the gorge:
Mill Creek Trail
The largest of many falls along the 2-mile Hawk’s Nest Rail Trail, the wide Mill Creek Falls in Ansted tumbles over tables of jagged cliffside. The easy gravel trek winds you around 2 rail trestles and past an abanoned 1920s coal mine, in addition to many vantage points to view all the falls. Mill Creek Falls is about halfway through the trail.
Discover the trail head near the Hawk’s Nest State Park nature center. You can make it a loop by taking the aerial tramway, which swoops over the park for picturesque aerial scenes, too. Bikes are also permitted on the trail.
Dunloop Creek Falls
Just outside the historic town of Thurmond, you can find a wide, 20-foot-tall rush of water drumming down over a ledge in the Dunlop creekbed. It’s a strong, heavy flow, so it’s a beautiful sight in winter.
From Route 25, there’s an obvious turnoff, though no other sign that the falls are stowed away nearby. It’s not as easy to appreciate from the car, so you’ll need to park and hike down for the best fall-gazing.
Along the Midland Trail (US Route 60) near Gauley Bridge, discover one of the highest falls in the state, pouring steeply more than 100 feet over the sandstone cliffside. You can get a blink-and-you-missed-it glimpse as you drive, but to get a good view, pull into the viewing area. You can see the final 60 feet of the full falls, raining down into its own secluded canyon, a natural amphitheater for the soothing sounds of the water’s flow.
The flow of the falls varies throughout the year, but a good trickle and a good freeze is all it takes to make this a perfect photo setting. You can also stop for a picnic. Then, stop in at the nearby historic Glen Ferris Inn for some hot chocolate to warm up!
Which waterfall is your favorite in winter?