As most of you who work know, it’s a little tough to squeeze in a good walk after 5 p.m., so I really don’t try to get out until there is a little more evening sunlight. So with the clock springing forward one hour, my hiking season officially began this past weekend.March and April are a good time to scour the trails if you’re looking for amazing views. The foliage hasn’t blossomed to fill in the forest and many of the trails wind around cliff edges and outcroppings. You can get a sneak peek at waterfalls (from snow melt), wildflowers (coming very soon), great views and historic ruins.
One of my favorite trails happens to be just across the street from the ACE marketing office. No excuses, I know – I don’t even have to drive anywhere. It’s called the New River Bridge Trail. It’s a point-to-point hike, meaning you hike the trail and come back the same way. It’s only .9 miles one way, but connects to the Fayetteville Trail. So basically it can be as long as you want – a quick power walk or all-day excursion.
The initial few hundred yards are a steep uphill hike that flattens out and meanders through the forest. Once it tops out, be sure to look up – yes, I have a tendency to stare at my feet while hiking and miss a lot of great scenery. The view of the bridge begins at this point.
As the trail descends, it gets very rugged and steep – as in giant sandstone boulders strategically placed to look like a set of stairs that are kind of steep (definitely no handrails). The stepping stones with a dirt path here and there works its way down into the gorge until it arrives at the base of the New River Gorge Bridge. Yes, you can stand directly under the bridge and get a really good look at this massive structure. I personally never get tired of this perspective.
If you continue on the trail, it becomes a moderate downhill grade to the Wolf Creek parking area or a challenging uphill trek to the Fayetteville Town Park. It’s an ambitious hike but well worth the sacrifice of a few fat cells.
PS – If at any point in this hike you come to the realization the trek back is going to be tough, I’m here to tell you it is. Be sure to bring water.