Devoted to exploring off the beaten path for beautiful waterfalls, wildflowers, and landscapes in West Virginia.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ride to the top of Canaan Valley: The Bald Knob Trail

Where can you get the best panoramas of Canaan Valley?  The Bald Knob Trail in Canaan Valley Resort State Park is my first choice. From the top of Bald Knob you can get wide, sweeping views of the valley below. 

View from Bald Knob
To make it even better you don’t have to scale the mountain side on foot to get the view. Instead, the Bald Knob trail is unusual in that it begins after an exhilarating ride up the Canaan Valley Resort chairlift (GPS: Lat. 39.008589, Long. -79.437558). From the base at 3580 feet in elevation, the ride offers increasingly breathtaking views of the valley and surrounding mountains before ending at the mountain top at 4280 feet. That’s a boost of 700 vertical feet without taking a step!! Even if you don’t choose to hike the Bald Knob Trail, you’ve still soaked in a lot of scenery. 
Chairlift: Photo courtesy of Canaan Valley State Park
The road to the chairlift is directly opposite the main entrance to Canaan Valley Resort State Park. It’s a short drive up to the chairlift where you can buy tickets to the top. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for seniors (60+) and juniors (6-12). The lift runs every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The last tickets sold for the day are at 3:45 p.m. By the way, be sure to plan for cooler temperatures on the mountaintop.
At the end of the chairlift ride, the Bald Knob Trail begins. You start with a level hike through a dense forest. The tread is very rocky on this stretch of the trail. After a third of a mile, you burst upon a sunny meadow. At this point, the trail follows for about two thirds of a mile along a wide highland meadow created by a gas pipeline right-of-way. 
Bald Knob Trail
After a short ascent the trail tops Bald Knob, a grassy, treeless knoll standing at 4308 feet in elevation and about 1100 feet above the valley floor. Panoramas are open to the south and west offering some of the clearest and best views of the southern part of Canaan Valley and surrounding mountains. After enjoying the scenery at the top of Bald Knob, you have two options to return. There’s a trail down the mountain about a mile long that leads back to the chairlift parking. It’s steep and hard on the knees. 

View from Bald Knob
I prefer to hike back to the top of the chairlift and savor a leisurely and relaxing ride to the bottom. Either way you’ll come off the mountain delighted by the views from Bald Knob. 

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