A Visit to Sandstone Falls, West Virginia
Randall Sanger, author of Waterfalls of Virginia & West Virginia, takes us to Sandstone Falls, one of his favorite waterfalls in West Virginia.
Sandstone Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls in West Virginia. It is easily accessed by an elaborate ¼-mile-long boardwalk and bridge system. The first bridge is a small one that crosses a man-made channel that once diverted water for a gristmill used by local farmers. The boardwalk leads to an overlook of the lower section of falls, which has about a 10-foot drop. To the left of the boardwalk you’ll notice the Island Loop Trail, which leads you through the Appalachian Riverside Flat Rock Plant Community—a unique botanical ecosystem in West Virginia. The second bridge crosses a wide natural channel that offers nice views of the lower section of falls in the distance. The boardwalk ends at an overlook with views of a 20–25 foot section of the falls.
Here is where I invite you to leave the boardwalk and explore! Just a few feet before the boardwalk ends, look for a trail to the right. The trail not only leads you to closer views of the lower falls, but it also, after a few stream crossings, leads you to an island with magnificent views of the river and the main section of falls. To reach the island, follow the trail to the first stream crossing; after crossing, bear to the left a little towards the riverbank.
After crossing two more streams, you’ll be front and center to all the action. Please note that while most of the time the stream crossings can be made without getting your feet wet, there will be times when the river is running high and the stream crossings will require wading through knee- to waist-high water.
With countless vantage points to choose from, be prepared to spend a lot of time simply admiring and photographing Sandstone Falls. An early morning visit to Sandstone Falls often results in heavy fog covering the river, while an evening visit can lead to amazing clouds and light above the falls.
How to Get There
Sandstone Falls are located at the New River Gorge National River, and the nearest town is Hinton. From Route 20 in Hinton, follow River Road for about 8 miles to the Sandstone Falls Day Use Area.
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