If you enjoy hiking, then you’re probably accustomed to trails that extend for quite a few miles. Some follow loops, while others force you to turn around when you finish. The Appalachian Trail (AT) extends thousands of miles from Georgia to Maine, but did you know that it goes through a small part of West Virginia? This is a great place to sample a small portion of the trail as part of a section hike. You might take a couple of days or you might go out for a week. That choice is yours.
What is a section hike?
Understanding the concept of section-hiking is dependent on your knowledge of thru-hiking. Those who attempt to one-shot the AT over a span of months are thru-hikers. Those who wish to complete only a small portion at a time are section hikers. They might choose to hike only during the day and find lodging elsewhere, or they might enjoy camping out each night. West Virginia is a great place to see what a section hike has to offer.
- West Virginia is home to only four miles of the Appalachian Trail, and also home to the famous trail-town, Harper’s Ferry. This is a good spot for a day-hike, but you can also head out to experience another twenty miles on the border of Virginia. There are shelters along the AT, which means there are easy stopping points. This makes it a good segment hike for beginners.
- The Dolly Sods Wilderness has 47 miles of trails to explore across 17,700 acres. It won’t be an excruciating hike, but it’ll be a scenic one. You’ll traverse meadows, bogs, forested areas, and follow alongside meandering streams. There are a lot of starting and stopping point options, but this is a good trail if you have even a little experience with backpacking excursions.
- The 47,000 acres of Monongahela National Forest will lead you to the Cranberry Wilderness. This is an out and back set of trails, which means at the end you’ll have to turn around and repeat the miles. This is one of the best hikes in West Virginia.
- Some of the best trails in the country are alpine points high above sea level, which is why you should definitely add Spruce Knob to your list of potential segment hikes. The highest peak is at 4,863 feet and is extremely isolated. You’ll have to walk about 16.5 miles to get there, but the journey is well worth it.