Falls of Hills Creek

This time last year, I was gearing up for our annual trip to Pocahontas County to see autumn in all its glory.  Our usual route beings at Summersville at our cabin and then we cross through Richwood, over Route 150 on the Highland Scenic Highway, stop for lunch at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, and loop back through Marlinton.  If we have extra time, a tour of the Green Bank Observatory is added to the list.  This is a route I can drive with my eyes closed as it’s my go-to weekend drive and it’s always beautiful regardless what time of year you’re there.

We do have a similar trip planned to Pocahontas County in October but it’s purely for hiking purposes — no scenic highway, no loop around Cass.  This time, we’re going to Watoga State Park in search of a specific shelter I visited when I was little.  More on that in the coming weeks though.  Today, I want to share with you one of the highlights from last year’s trip through Pocahontas:  the Falls of Hills Creek.  Prior to this visit, I had hiked to the falls twice but this was Jon’s first time visiting.  The day we were there was chilly and foggy but man oh man, was the hike to and from gorgeous!

The Falls of Hills Creek are nestled in the Monongahela National Forest, easily accessible on Route 39 between Marlinton and Mill Point, five miles west of the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center.  However if you blink, you’ll miss the turn-off, as it’s unmarked aside from a small brown National Parks Service sign that says “Scenic Area.”  Once you turn on the road, there is a paved parking area at the trailhead followed by a 3/4-mile descent to access all three falls.  The first waterfall, called Upper Falls, cascades 25 feet and is handicapped accessible via a paved walkway.  But, the view isn’t spectacular.  If you are able, continue down the boardwalk and paths to the Middle Falls (45 feet) and finally the Lower Falls.  At 65 feet, the Lower Falls is a sight to be seen and it is also the third largest waterfall in West Virginia.  The Falls of Hills Creek are truly a hidden gem in West Virginia and once you see my photos below, you’ll understand why!

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Yours truly in front of the trailhead sign.

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Monongahela National Forest sign on Route 39 just outside of Richwood

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The path to the Middle and Lower Falls follows the creek and in some cases, crosses it.

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Middle Falls, 45 Feet

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This is an example of the boardwalk stairs that take you down the path

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There are two sets of switch backs like this that will take you to the observation platform for the Lower Falls

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The Lower Falls, 65 Feet

For more information on the Falls of Hills Creek, visit the Pocahontas County or National Parks Service websites.

Until Next Time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)

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Mountain State Monday: Summersville Lighthouse

Happy Fall, everyone!  Yesterday marked the official start of my favorite season and I am so excited to see what it has in store for me this year.  In true fall fashion, the first full day of the season started off quite chilly and although I love the cold weather, I did not dress for it this morning.  Brrrr.  So for our Mountain State Monday, I’m going to take you back to warmer times — and the grand opening of the Summersville Lake Retreat Lighthouse!

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To celebrate West Virginia’s 150th Birthday, the Summersville Lake Retreat Lighthouse opened to the public on June 20, 2013.  It is West Virginia’s only lighthouse and stands 104 feet tall with a top elevation of 2,164 feet above sea level.  A steep 122 steps can take you to the top for a beautiful 360 degree view of Summersville Lake and surrounding areas.  Aside from being the only lighthouse in a land-locked state, what really makes the lighthouse unique is that it is made from a “damaged” wind turbine base from a nearby wind farm in Greenbrier County.

Jon and I visited the grand opening event on West Virginia Day back in June and I must say, the lighthouse and its views are really gorgeous!  On one side you have a view of the lake and on the other, you have Route 19 and farms.  It’s an odd combination, but for $7, it’s a cheap way to see an aerial view of the land and it’s a great stop for families.

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The lighthouse is still open daily through the end of October, so plan a trip today!  For more information on the Summersville Lake Retreat’s Lighthouse, visit http://summersvillelakeretreat.com/.

Until next time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)