When it comes to outdoor recreation, the Advantage Valley region has a bucketful of possibilities.
It is easy to take advantage of Advantage Valley’s outdoor recreation opportunities. Numerous parks, trails and rivers can be explored throughout the region, and most are just a short drive (or walk) away. So, get out and fill up your adventure bucket list with all the region offers, from the river valleys to the mountain tops.
1. Check Out America’s Newest National Park
The New River Gorge is the deepest (1,600 feet) and longest (53 miles) river gorge in the Appalachian Mountains, and in 2021 it received official National Park and Preserve status. Located 80 miles southeast of Charleston, the park encompasses over 70,000 acres.
2. Explore the Elk River
Whether it’s kayaking, canoeing or tubing, there are plenty of ways to while away the day along this 172-mile tributary. Elk River Get-A-Way and Yak House Rentals can set you up with all the gear needed for a leisurely trip past forests, farmland and charming small towns.
3. Play Pickleball
Advantage Valley has embraced this fast-growing sport, combining tennis, ping pong and badminton elements. The new Huntington Pickleball Club quickly signed up more than 100 members, and courts have been established in the city at Ritter Park and Westmoreland Park. Pickleball courts are also available at Barboursville Park and the Town of Ceredo Pickleball Courts.
4. Take a Shot at Skeet Shooting
West Virginia Clays in Hernshaw has two skeet fields, one combination skeet/trap field and a new five-stand sporting clays field. While annual memberships are available, the club also is open to the public and available to reserve for events.
5. Go Fishing at Elk Fork Lake
Some mighty big bass can be found in this deceptively little lake. Located between Charleston and Parkersburg near Ripley, Elk Fork Lake is a compact 209 acres. But the water depth and clarity within that acreage make it an ideal habitat for bass — and anglers — to thrive.
6. Paddleboard at Kanawha Falls
Mountain Surf Paddle Sports provides guided tours along a flat section of the Kanawha River below this 20-foot-high, river-wide waterfall system. The falls also are easily viewable from Route 60, which runs alongside the river for more than 40 miles.
7. Cruise Down the Elk River Rail Trail
Created out of a former railroad corridor, this rail-to-trails system stretches for nearly 54 miles along the Elk River — from Clendenin to Gassaway. The trail is open for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and there are several river-access points along the way for fishing and boating.
8. Explore Kanawha State Forest
This 9,300-acre recreation area is located a mere 7 miles from Charleston. But the city feels much farther away than that as you stroll along the 25 miles of quiet hiking trails or relax at one of the 46 secluded campsites.
9. Make Tracks at Meeks Mountain or Eleanor City Park
Runners and cyclists can find a trail in Advantage Valley to suit their needs. More than 20 of an eventual 26 miles of trails have been created at Meeks Mountain next to Hurricane City Park. Meanwhile, the 18-mile Eleanor City Park Trail provides a cardio test with approximately 1,800 feet of climbing. Must-ride trails include Faceplant and Gun Range.
10. Go Off the Beaten Path Along the Hatfield-McCoy Trails
There is no feud when it comes to picking the grandest trail system in West Virginia. The sprawling Hatfield-McCoy Trails provide 1,000 miles of off-road fun along 10 routes (including the Ivy Branch Trail between Huntington and Charleston). The system sold a record 95,000 trail permits in 2021.
11. Get Some Rest
After all that adventure, you can take a scenic break. Remote getaways can be enjoyed at WV ATV Resort, Pappy’s Cabin at the Pond, Mountain Mama Lodging, Ole Henry’s Camping Retreat and Ivy Branch ATV Resort. Rustic Ravines is another good option, offering cabin rentals and a slew of activities.
If you’d like to learn more about the Advantage Valley region, check out the latest edition of Livability: Advantage Valley, West Virginia.