Blackwater Canyon Trail | West Virginia Rails To Trails


In 1888, the Blackwater Canyon Trail, located in the Monongahela National Forest, was used to haul coal and lumber through this stunning canyon. Today, remnants of this history still remain just outside of Thomas in the form of coke ovens that line the trail along the mountainside.

The Blackwater Canyon Trail is perfect for hikers or mountain bikers in search of solitude. The trail curves along the Blackwater River and its North Branch, meandering through Blackwater Falls State Park. As such, this is a terrifically scenic pathway, with mountains lining both sides of the canyon, and the roaring river a steady soundtrack to your journey. Best views of the river, including scenic waterfalls, are to be enjoyed during late fall, winter and early spring, when the trees don’t have as many leaves.

It is best to follow this trail from Thomas to Hendricks since there is a considerable climb in the other direction. As you travel along the Blackwater Canyon Trail, you may happen upon one of several endangered species, including the West Virginia flying squirrel, Indiana bat or the Cheat Mountain salamander. The habitat surrounding the trail is vital to the survival of these species, so it is important to stay on the trail. In Hendricks, it is also possible to pick up the Allegheny Highlands Trail and Limerock Trail (hiking only).

Trail Manager Contact

United States Forest Service (MNF)

Monongahela National Forest
200 Sycamore Street
Elkins, West Virginia



This is a single-track and often steep, once a logging railroad.

The 5.5 mile section between the Forest Service gates crosses private land; please stay on the uphill side. Trail not maintained – contains washouts rough surfaces and large sinkholes. Use caution!

Trail Stats

Trail Status Open
Trail End Points Main St. at 3rd St. (Hendricks) to Douglas Rd. at East Ave. (Thomas)
Counties Tucker
Trail Length 10.5 miles
Activities Hiking, Mountain Biking, Cross Country Skiing
Trail Surface Dirt, Gravel
Trail Link Profile Profile
Parking and Trail Access

In Thomas, head south on State Route 32 (Spruce Street). Turn right onto Douglas Road, which crosses the trail. Turn left off Douglas Road onto the trail (you can drive on this portion) to reach the trailhead, approximately 1 mile down the road. A Forest Service gate marks the trailhead.

In Hendricks, take State Route 72 east through town and turn right on Second Street. The trailhead is on the right. Look for the gazebo and parking at the trailhead.