Wildflower weekend in the Gorge!

Spend a weekend with the wildflowers. During the New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend on April 22-24, explore outdoors in the West Virginia blooms.

Wood Betony is blooming in WV

No gorge in the region has more floral diversity than the New River Gorge. Wildflowers thrive along the New River because of its unusual northern flow. To kick off the season, park rangers will guide you through the wilderness at the New River Gorge National River, Babcock, Hawks Nest, Little Beaver and Pipestem.

Just bring sturdy shoes and special lenses for your camera. Now’s the perfect time for macro photography!

Ready? Plants are already blooming at New River Gorge National River. Stick to trails that follow the warm riverbank, where there’s more growth in April. Right now, squirrel corn, 3 trillium species, trout lilies and bloodroot are waking up.

For Wildflower Weekend, try these paths:

  • Glade Creek Trail: 5.6 miles of easy terrain take you through lush forests and lively waterfalls
  • Grandview Rim Trail: 1.6 miles of moderately demanding ground guides you past lovely views of the New River. In May, you might see rhododendron and pink lady’s slippers.

The Sandstone-Brooks Area Trails have wonderful wildflower spots and views, too. Try your luck with these hikes:

  • Island Loop Trail: A .5-mile path leads you around an island, which still bears traces of a former farm and grist mill.
  • Big Branch Trail: 2 miles cover some strenuous paths, but early spring flowers don’t mind. Look out for toothwort and blood lilies. For a bonus, stop by beautiful Brooks Falls.
  • Sandstone Falls Boardwalk: This 1-mile trail includes stupendous views of Sandstone Falls, a sprawling waterfall that’s 1,500 feet wide. The flat rocks are home to Appalachian plants, so bring a guide and pencil. See if you can spot colorful characters like Dutchman’s breeches and skunk cabbage!

If you’re up for more, visit Hawks Nest. Gorgeous redbuds are greeting spring along the 1.5-mile Hawks Nest Rail Trail. Get a 2-for-1 deal at Pipestem Resort, which has waterfalls and wildflowers aplenty.

Local artists will also contribute to Wildflower Weekend. Visit Tamarack and see your favorite plants represented by talented painters and sculptors.

Which trail will you hike?

Sam Babcock