New River Gorge Spring 2014

We made a four day trip to Fayetteville, W.V. on 25 April with Jim Kearns and Tim Meredith.  Jim and I stopped in on Peachtree Falls on our way to Fayetteville.  It was well worth the diversion, though it is located at the end of a dirt road where there are two residences, and there was some concern about intruding.  Relying on the directions given, we stopped and asked this crusty old vet if it was O.K. to park and he proceeded to regale us with stories of coyotes and how many he had killed (68) and said it was O.K. and the falls was down the road.  A 1/4 mile walk and a steep scramble later found us in the creek in front of a magnificent waterfall.  The skies were perfect and the water was flowing.

Peachtree Falls

Tim joined us on Friday night and we were gone first thing Saturday morning to Babcock State Park.
It was a bright sunny day but we got lucky and arrived before the sun came into the valley.  I went down river a bit for this shot.

Babcock State Park – behind visitor center.
At the Glade Creek Mill

We then proceeded to Sandstone Falls.  We were able to get out pretty far and ventured to the edge of the rocks off the end of the path.  There were several streams to ford, but the view is much better.  This is my favorite shot of the day from Sandstone.

Sandstone Falls

After lunch, we drove up to Thurmond.  It was photographically not so interesting with the sun blasting but we saw some interesting birds, a prom couple getting their photos taken, and a bunch of CSX coal trains came through while there, and, it was Saturday, so there were lots of tourists.  It’s always a good day to go to Thurmond though, because Dunloup Creek and it’s falls are right along side the road.  So we stopped and the sun was kind enough to dip behind the clouds for a few minutes.  I shot one of my first videos there as well.
Here’s Dunloup Falls.

Falls on Dunloup Creek

We tried for a sunset that night on the overlook of Fern Creek Trail but it was closed, and, with sunset upon us, ventured to the nearby “Adventures on the Gorge” where we set up just outside of Smokey’s.  The sunset was lack lustre and difficult to shoot and there were all sorts of people all over.

The following morning found us bound for Laurel Creek Falls.  We were lodged fairly close to Saturday Rd., which is the access to the falls.  It was about a 10 mile drive with the last two miles on a pretty bad rock road.  We left Tim’s car where the pavement ended and good thing.  This is definitely 4WD country.
Once parked it took a while to decide how to proceed down into the creek.  It’s not easy, and actually, quite dangerous, no matter where you descend.   We went downstream about 100 yards and scrambled down some pretty loose rocky walls till we finally hit bottom, then walked up stream to the falls.  The walk in the creek was a breeze after the descent.

Laurel Creek Falls

Following Laurel Creek Falls, we ventured to Laurel Creek along CR16, where there are a number of falls in a short span of highway.  I didn’t shoot there, as the sun was out of control and I already have some nice shots, but went exploring downstream a ways while Jim and Tim shot.  Later we went to Cathedral Falls, where we parted company with Tim.  Jim and I proceeded to Kay Moor and Marr Branch.  Here are a couple from there.

Falls below bridge at Kay Moor trailhead.

I believe this last one is called Upper Marr Branch Falls, but not sure.  Both of these last two required some work to get to, with Marr Branch being the more difficult.  It’s pretty rocky on the descent, but we found a trail on the other side of the creek that gives access to the top of the falls and you can cross the creek there when it’s low.

All in all, a rewarding day.  I was pretty beat by the end but it was worth it,if, for nothing else, to visit Laurel Falls.  It was a beautiful place and I’ll never forget that day.

The next morning Jim and I went for a hike on the Endless Wall Trail.  It’s the same as for Fern Creek, which was closed the day before.  We found out that it was closed for a fire investigation.  You couldn’t see anything from far away, but when you hike the trail, you can see the damage that was done, probably by some careless hikers, as we found a large camp fire on Diamond Point.  It’s not hard to imagine  that someone kicked fiery logs over the cliff, or something even more nefarious.  Just glad it was confined.

Following our hike, it began to rain cats and dogs.  We settled in at a local restaurant for some food and then hit the road.  It was obviously not going to be a good day to photograph.  Pretty gnarly weather.  It rained off and on all the way back home, as it did on the way there.  I guess you could say it was our cue to make a move.  All in all, a rewarding four days with good friends, a number of new visits and some returns to cool places, like Sandstone Falls.  Looking forward to the next trip already.

All my West Virginia shots are in this gallery.