Sandstone Falls In New River Gorge National Park
- GPS: 37.75949, -80.90518
Sandstone Falls can be found along the scenic river drive (WV Route 26) in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve located in West Virginia and is a pet friendly trail.
This is the largest waterfall on the New River. Though it may not be a tall waterfall it does span an impressive 1500 feet across the river. It is divided by islands and the falls only drop from 10 to 25 feet.
At the trailhead, a handicapped accessible boardwalk crosses two bridges leading to the islands and multiple observation decks for Sandstone Falls and the New River.
A number of informational plaques placed along the boardwalk talk about the river, falls, geology, and history of the surrounding area.
In total it is a very easy 1/2 mile out and back trail.
While walking the boardwalk you will travel through an area known as the Appalachian riverside flat rock community. This particular community is special because it contains many plants that grow nowhere else in New River Gorge.
Your hike begins by crossing a short bridge that takes you to some great views of the lower falls on the first island.
After traveling the boardwalk for a short distance another bridge will take you to the second low-lying island. The boardwalk ends at the main observation deck for the upper falls.
This is part of Sandstone Falls that stretches completely across the river.
It is an impressive sight to behold.
For the adventurous types there is a way to get even closer to the falls. After admiring their beauty from the main observation deck head back the way you came and you will see some steps on your left.
I mean I don’t think this is technically a trail, but if they didn’t want us exploring the area why did they put the steps there?
You will see some paths through the woods from travelers before you, but they aren’t always the easiest to follow. Basically, if you just keep heading in the direction of the river you will reach its shores and be much closer to the main falls.
The views and pictures you get from this angle are so much better.
If you go the opposite direction of the river, after a bit of rock scrambling, you can make it to the top of the lower falls.
If you decide to take the steps and feed your wild side, be warned that there is a very high probability that your feet will get wet. You will have to cross little streams multiple times to reach the river.
Jamey managed to stay dry, but I slipped on a rock and both of my feet got soaked.
Speaking of rocks, the ground in this area is covered with them and they are wet and slippery so be careful.
I should also note that we were there in October so the water was pretty low.
I’ve seen pictures of the Sandstone Falls in the spring and that baby is raging. So use caution if you try to take this route. It may not be safe to go stomping around this floodplain during certain times of the year.
Remember, safety always first!
You don’t want your visit to the park to end early, because you get caught in the rushing waters of the New River.
I probably should have written this part first, but completely forgot till now.
I usually like to chat about points of interest in the order you encounter them on a hike, but oh well I’ll let you know now. Before reaching the main observation deck you will see a set of steps to your left off the boardwalk that leads right down to the river’s edge.
Once you reach the river if you look to your left you will see a little peninsula farther down that sticks out into the river. Follow the shore to reach this peninsula and you will be greeted with views of Sandstone Falls from a different angle.
This area of the trail provides you with the opportunity to walk along the river and really immerse yourself in the surrounding nature.
There are some sandy areas for the kids to play in and even some rocks for them to climb. If it’s not too cold out you may even be able to dip your toes (or the rest of you) in the cool water.
While on the boardwalk you will pass a sign for the Island Loop Trail.
This is an easy 1/2 mile trail that will take you around the largest island located below Sandstone Falls. Part of the trail follows the river, but most of it will have you trekking through the forested area of the island.
While hiking on the river’s edge you will pass a beach which is a popular fishing spot. This whole area is great for fishing, but be sure to have the proper license if you plan on casting your line in the water.
Multiple little streams flow through the island and the trail is a bit rocky so watch where you are stepping. The hike is nothing too exciting, but it’s short and easy and gives you an opportunity to explore more of the area.
For the history buffs out there a grist mill once operated on the island.
Sandstone Falls is a great adventure for the whole family and a must stop while visiting New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. We are planning another trip in the spring to see the falls again when the water is really flowing.
After you turn off the WV Route 20 bridge in Hinton Sandstone Falls will be approximately 9 miles down the River Road on your right. There is no sign so make sure you don’t drive past.
Picnic tables, restrooms, and trashcans are all conveniently located in the parking area for visitors.