In June, we were lucky enough to have a break in our schedules to head North to the New River Gorge in West Virginia to meet up with some friends who are based out of Pittsburgh. The New River Gorge was a great half-way point, and highlighted the beauty of the state in a great, natural way.
Where we camped: Brooklyn Campground in Cunard, WV. [recreation.gov] This is a free, first-come-first-serve campground right on the river. Perfect for putting in or taking out your own boat, kayak, or raft. Also, it’s right at the bike/hike Southside Trail to Thurmond (7 miles each way)! [link to trails]
This was an awesome home base. We got there on a really rainy night and were the only ones at the campground on Friday night, but Saturday we were joined by two other tents. One was a guy and his dog, rafting down the river solo. The campsite had picnic tables and firerings, although firewood was scarce to find. It also had a portajohn, but I opted to use the woods because #camping.
What we did: Visited the New River Gorge visitor center for some cool views of the river and the New River Gorge Bridge – the longest steel span in the western hemisphere.
We opted to grill out lunch along the river at the Dun Glen Boat Launch in McKendree, WV to watch the rafters make their way down the scenic river. It was also a perfect spot for a rock skipping contest. I lost, per usual.
We also crossed over a one way bridge to see the town of Thurmond. It used to be a thiving riverside/railside town bringing in visitors from all over, but once cars became mainstream, the little town fell by the wayside. We saw plenty of biker who were following one of the many trails along the riverside.
Where we ate: We brought our own food for the grill and for breakfast, but we stopped and snacked in the various towns. The best one was Secret Sandwich Society. Sandwiches named after founding fathers, this joint was delicious and patriotic. Expect a long wait though.
What we want to return to do: Actually get out on the river. There are white water rapids, and calm spots, plus access to a lake just north of the NRG. I just got a new kayak that I am excited to test out! The rock climbing in the area is well-known and there is an area where you can go free climb over Summersville Lake. There are ample hikes in the area, plus mountain bike trails. And it’s halfway to Pittsburgh from Charlotte, making it a great rest stop on a journey North.