The View Without the Hike
“The joy is in the journey.” For some of us, that is true. But, the benefits of spending time in nature and viewing the wonderful scenery doesn’t have to be limited to those who are able to hike long distances. In fact, West Virginia is home to many views that are easy to access within a few steps of a parking space.
Here is a small sampling of the places where you can access an enjoyable view and experience nature even with limited time or mobility:
- Camp Creek has two very easy to find waterfall spots: Campbell Falls and Mash Creek Falls. Both are easy to get to by vehicle and you can be within sight of the falls with short and easy mostly flat walk.
- North Overlook at Grandview. This spot has its own parking lot, and you are able to get out to walk an easy portion of trail with multiple overlooks and benches for sitting.
- Cranberry Nature Center. There is plenty of parking, and you can walk right into great views in the Monongahela Forest without the long hike.
- Watoga State Park has a great overlook. The TM Cheek Memorial Overlook is on the way up to the Ann Bailey trail. With plenty of parking, it is gorgeous any time of year. If you drive on up to the Ann Bailey trailhead, there is a similar view without going out to the lookout tower, right from the parking lot.
- Little Beaver State Park, Rhododendron Run Trail: Starting at the second trailhead, park and walk a very short distance to see the flowing water, and enjoy a beautiful forest-y walk.
- Summersville Lake overlook located on the way to the marina, on the right. This is a beautiful spot to park where you can walk a little and look over the cliffs and lake.
- Hawks Nest State Park Overlook. Just drive up to the parking lot and walk to the overlook. You can spend as much or as little time as you like admiring the cliff top views.
- Sandstone Falls: This spot is completely ADA accessible. Access a boardwalk to go out as far as you would like to view one of West Virginia’s most amazing views.
- Cathedral Falls. You can drive to this beautiful location along Route 60 and never leave your car.
- If you visit Cathedral Falls, just drive about 7 more miles to Kanawha Falls. Again, just going to the parking lot and walking a few steps offers a feeling of immersion into nature.
Levi Moore has been involved with Active SWV as a Community Captain, and also leads his own hikes throughout the region. He states: “Every person, no matter their physical capabilities, should have easy access to the healing qualities of immersion in nature. Our physical health, and our mental health, require the regular (re)connection to natural spaces. So it is imperative that those spaces be made available and accessible to as many people as possible.”
Getting outside, no matter your ability to walk or be active in these spaces, still has great benefit. With the cooler temperatures arriving and leaves vanishing from trees, these spaces may be less crowded and the views more amazing. The sights and sounds of the forests, rivers, and streams of West Virginia can be enjoyed by any’body’.
Looking for more easy to access trails? Find a list of “stroller friendly trails” here.