Laurel Creek in Fayette County, West Virginia, just outside of Fayetteville, along Beckwith Rd. (WV 16), is an amazing stretch of roadside water wonder. One of the very first places I ever photographed in West Virginia, it is also a tricky place to visit. Situated roadside along a winding and very busy stretch of road, it is very tight with little opportunity to park close by. On several visits, we drove all the way to the bottom, where the creek meets the New River at the Cotton Hill Bridge. There is a river access point with parking here. It’s still dangerous walking back up the hill to see the creek on this busy road and also can be tricky getting into the creek in several locations, but, honestly, the safest place to park.
There are six waterfalls along this, approximately, one mile long length of creek/road, none of which bear any names as far as I know. I have heard a couple people name one or two, but nothing is sticking and there aren’t any real identifying traits that might give rise to naming an individual waterfall, except for the last one. It has a balanced rock on top of it.
Parking and access are at your own risk and there is limited opportunity to park, though there are a couple of spots to pull over with room for one car. There is also a guardrail on the creek side of the road and I often hop over just to stay off the road. There’s enough room and flat ground on the creek side of the guard rail for comfortable walking a lot of the way. I recommend you drive this stretch a couple times to figure out where everything is and where you will park before actually doing so.
Beginning at the top, there is an old gas station and what was a mill at one time, where a dam has been constructed. There is room to stop here. This is private property.
A little further down, the falls begin with a very nice drop of approximately 12′ to 15′. This is one of the more difficult places to enter the creek bed and there is no parking close by.
Next, and just below, are two falls in a sort of grotto. Not strictly a grotto, but you’ll find two nice slides here. This area is not terribly difficult to get down into, but there has been a lot of timber at this point since the 2016 rains, and there is a big pine log just in front of the falls, but you can get around well enough to take photos.
A short walk down stream from these falls, you might be lucky enough to see this hill side beauty running. It likes wet weather, but will often run for a day or two after heavy rains. Personally, I think it’s gorgeous and one of the best looking on this run, but like I said, it needs a good rain to make it run.
The last fall on Laurel Creek is a challenge to get to. There is a pull off on the side of the road across from this one. Once over the guard rail, you have to navigate the “rip-rap” down into the creek. It’s kind of steep and there are some loose rocks and boulders on occasion. So be careful. I have found a number of nice photographic opportunities on this creek, but this is one place you can really spend some time.
Overall, one of the best creeks to shoot in the area and it has the most falls per mile, as far as I know, of any creek in W.V., except maybe Decker’s. Just be careful parking and walking when in this area. The road is busy and winding and not easy to see what’s coming sometimes. Also, the rocks and rip-rap on the embankments is never easy to navigate. Make sure you have good boots on when going down into this creek.
Hope you have a good time and good adventure here. Lots of beauty to share on Beckwith Rd.