Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Blackwater Falls’

Blackwater Falls – A Powerful Experience

The roaring falls of Blackwater River can be heard for miles around. Located near Davis, West Virgnia, these falls have become one of the most photographed sites in the state.

Steps at Blackwater Falls

Steps to Blackwater Falls

When you arrive at the Blackwater Falls sign, you notice that it says 214 steps to the falls. As you start down the first steps, it seems like an endless adventure as group after group of steps appear. Youngsters step gingerly down the steps, counting as they go to see if that number is actually correct. Several viewing platforms have been placed for enjoyable viewing, as well as a spot to rest.

mountain laurel

Mountain Laurel already produces blossoms for next spring.

Along the way, the forest flourishes with mountain laurel plants, already forming blossoms for next season. In the fall, autumn leaves add color to the greenery of the pines.

Posted signs give interesting, helpful information regarding the falls. One sign points out that the walls of the falls are composed of “Salt Sand” used by drillers. This Conoquenessing sandstone strongly resists forces of nature, and forms the canyon walls and Blackwater Falls. This special sand assists in the production of oil and natural gas in West Virginia.

Sandstone began to form here over 230 million years ago as deposits of sediment were deposited in large basins that covered present day West Virginia. Over millions of years, most sediment deposits squeezed and changed the underlying sediment to rock. The large boulders at the base of the falls were once part of the cap rock.

Blackwater Falls

Beautiful Blackwater Falls

The first glimpse of the falls even from afar takes your breath away. When you get closer, you can actually feel the spray from the water on your face. As it descends the falls, the water appears amber, or tea colored as it plunges straight down about sixty feet before it twists and turns down the eight mile long gorge. Since the color appears darker than most waterfalls, it received the label of “black” water. The color results from tannic acid emitted by fallen hemlock and red spruce needles.

Blackwater River flows on.

Blackwater River flows on.

As you watch the bubbling mountain stream at the top of the falls, it suddenly picks up life as it tumbles over the edge, swirling as it goes.But it’s pure pleasure to sit on the deck of the overlook and listen to the powerful sound of the falls with its unending flow. Sometimes during the year, the falls either slow down to a trickle, speed up to a torrent, or even partially freeze over.

Everytime you visit will be a new experience!

Blackwater Falls can be found in northeastern West Virginia near Davis. Natural treasures like this remain off the beaten path so directions vary greatly depending on your direction of travel. Definitely worth the trip!

Elakala Trail

View of Elakala Falls from across the valley with State Park Lodge in the upper left hand side

View of Elakala Falls from across the valley with State Park Lodge in the upper left hand side

Although not as forceful as the Blackwater Falls, the Elakala Falls are much longer. Found in the Blackwater State Park near Davis, West Virginia, these falls can first be seen from the Pendleton Overlook. Looking straight across the Blackwater River, the Elakala Falls can be seen on the opposite bank to the right of the State Park Lodge. From this distance it looks like a fine line down the side of the mountain, but in reality it is much larger.

Rugged path to Elakala Falls

Rugged path to Elakala Falls

Now it’s time to head to the other side  and walk down the Elakala  Trail. This is a rather rough trail with no steps, just a mountain path. You must be careful of tree roots and rocks in the middle of the path, but the view is worth it. Elakala Falls is a series of four waterfalls of Shays Run, as it cascades down a canyon wall into the Blackwater River below

View of Elakala Falls from the top

View of Elakala Falls from the top

The first waterfall can be accessed fairly easily so more photographs happen here than at the other three. That first waterfall spills over 35 feet to continue down Shays Run. A wooden bridge there provides an easy means of crossing for an overview, but you will want to go just a little farther to get the best picture. 

Some choose the challenge to continue down to the next waterfall, but jumbled rocks and unsecure footing combine to make it very difficult. Anything beyond the second fall is considered extremely dangerous and not recommended for any but very experienced hikers. No marked trails exist for the other three and the gorge here drops 200 feet.

Bridge over Elakala Falls

Bridge over Elakala Falls

The name for these waterfalls originated from old Native American Indian legends, of which there are several. The one I like best claims that  an Indian princess named Elakala threw herself over the edge of the first waterfall when her warrior scorned her. While it’s impossible to know which legend rings true, this area seems to be a perfect place for those early Native Americans to have lived – near the water and under the many rock shelters present.

Directions to Blackwater State Park travel many scenic routes along the way. These are the clearest directions I have found: Take I-7o E to I-79 S. Stay on I-79 S to Morgantown, WV. At Morgantown, follow I-68 E to Rt. 42 S, Friendsville, MD. Follow to Rt. 219 S through Oakland, MD, to Thomas, WV. At Thomas, take Rt. 32 S to Davis, WV. See what I mean?


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