The Marvelous 1-Mile Trail In West Virginia Leads Adventurers To A Little-Known Abandoned Church
Get this: there is an easy hike of less than one mile (a mostly nice and level mile, to boot) in the New River Gorge National Park that almost no one knows about … and it leads to one of the few historic African American churches still left standing in the region. What a hidden treasure! Here’s how you can find the old, abandoned First Baptist Church of Thurmond near Oak Hill, West Virginia for yourself.
Hidden in the woods just across the New River from the Thurmond Depot in the nearly abandoned town of Thurmond, West Virginia is an old wooden church.
Abandoned now, this church has a long and storied history: in days gone by, it provided a place of worship for the many African Americans who lived in the coal camps and railroad towns that lined the banks of the New River.
In 1920, just before this church was built, there were 9,636 Black residents in Fayette County alone.
Although it's no longer in use, this church is still important; it's one of the few historically Black churches from the era of segregation still standing in the New River Gorge.
Visit this church for yourself by lacing up your hiking boots and tackling the Rend Trail from the Thurmond Trailhead, located along WV Route 25 most of the way to the New River crossing at Thurmond from Glen Jean.
Once you've reached the Thurmond Trailhead of the Rend Trail, you'll hike along the Rend Trail itself for about 0.7 miles, until you come to the Church Loop Trail, which is a short 0.1-mile loop that leads past the First Baptist Church of Thurmond.
And that's it! That's all it takes to reach this uniquely historic West Virginia church.
Once you've completed the short Church Loop Trail, you can continue down the Rend Trail until you reach a bridge outage. Otherwise, turn around and return the way you came.
Built in the early 1920s by residents of the now abandoned town of Dun Glen, the church was also within reach of residents of Thurmond and other nearby coal towns.
Have you ever hiked to this wooden church hidden in the forest? Did you even know it was here in the New River Gorge National Park?
Learn more about hiking the Church Loop Trail to the abandoned First Baptist Church of Thurmond, West Virginia via the Rend Trail, visit the
National Park Service website. Interestingly, this uniquely historic church is just one of many sites of significance to Black history found in the New River Gorge area. Road trip, anyone?
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Rend Trail, West Virginia 25901, USA