Nature November 08, 2021
The Island Loop Trail In West Virginia Takes You From Sandstone Falls Into The Forest And Back
Do you ever have trouble agreeing on where to hike because you can’t decide (either in your own mind or among your hiking partners) whether you want to tromp through the beautiful forests of West Virginia or whether you’d rather get some of the Mountain State’s famous waterfront views? Here’s a trail that lets you do both, and it’s arguably one of the best hikes you can take in the whole state.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
The New River Gorge, West Virginia. It's likely the most well known of attractions in the whole state, and for good reason. And one of the most famous natural panoramas in this beloved natural wonder is Sandstone Falls.
Stretching across the entirety of the New River, Sandstone Falls is the widest waterfall in West Virginia.
And one of the best ways to see it is from the vantage point of the Island Loop Trail, which begins and ends at the Sandstone Falls Boardwalk.
The Island Loop Trail will take you on a tour around one of the New River's larger islands, from Sandstone Falls into the forest.
Except it hasn't always been forest. It used to be farmland. Now, the forest is reclaiming its old territory, and filling back in this island that was once logged and cultivated by local Appalachian subsistance farmers.
Along the Island Loop Trail, you'll enjoy the shade of these regrown trees, as well as the lush green of mossy rocks against the leaf-litter browns of the forest floor.
You'll cross rushing streams dotted with jutting boulders.
You'll pass mini-cascades that are small but fierce in their energy and ambition.
Maybe they dream of growing up to be just like Sandstone Falls one day?
And in the end you'll wind up right back where you started - at the beautiful, mighty, iconic Sandstone Falls.
The Island Loop Trail is rated "easy." It's only a mile in length and gains less than 22 feet of elevation, making it suitable for many ages and abilities.
To learn more, visit the
Island Loop Trail page on Alltrails or check out the information provided on the New River Gorge National Park’s Sandstone Falls Trails webpage. Find Sandstone Falls (and the Island Loop Trail) at the end of West Virginia’s longest scenic riverside drive, which is a worthy adventure in and of itself! Address: Sandstone Falls Boardwalk, New River Rd, Shady Spring, WV 25918, USA