The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Trails of Pipestem State Park

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The following trails at Pipestem Resort State Park are listed in order of length in miles. Trails in the eastern park generally travel through gentle uplands, while trails in the west descend into the gorge of the Bluestone River and ascend into the tablelands beyond its western rim. Pipestem, however, is regarded as a family-oriented vacation park, and many pathways are easy and suited to small children. Several may be walked, rather than hiked. The North Side Trail, at park headquarters, is short, level, and particularly suited to the young children. Many park trails are are suited to biking, skiing, and horse-riding, and a list of those on which such recreation is permitted follows at the end of this article. The official Pipestem trail map provides suitable information in PDF format.

Cottage Trail -- .2 m

Beginning near Cottage No. 1 (at Cottage Area "A"), this footpath descends easily through woodland to meet the 2.2-mile Lake Shore Trail at Long Branch Lake. The Cottage Trail is a convenient lake-access route for guest lodging at the Area "A" cottages.

Pipestem Knob Trail -- .2 m

Mounting Pipestem Knob, this paved trail ascends from a parking area near the park entrance to an observation tower at the park's highest point. The rigorous stroll is among the most popular walks at Pipestem, but the 360-degree panorama from atop the tower may be worth the effort.

Turkey Spur Trail -- .4 m

This gentle path drops through woodland from the park road to Lake Shore Trail. The trail begins along the road opposite park headquarters, and a short upper trail connects it with Cottage Trail. Wild turkey, for which the trail is named, are native to the region inhabit the park.

Lake View Trail -- .4 m

Beginning at the park road nearly opposite the nature center, this easy trail the length of an upland hollow to meet the Lake Shore Trail at Long Branch Lake. A good exploratory trail for children, the route may be easily accompanied by a visit to the nature center.

Law Hollow Trail -- .5 m

This easy back-trail descends from the park road through Law Hollow to join the Lake Shore Trail near the Long Branch Lake dam and wildlife observation area. The follows a gentle old logging road. The trail crosses Den-Tree Trail near its end at the lake.

North Side Trail -- .5 m

A short loop walk wanders through the wooded upland behind the park headquarters. Picnic tables are convenient the trail-head and a small parking area beside the headquarters. Far from standing water and steep terrain, the trail may be appropriate for small children.

Den Tree Trail -- .6 m

Beginning at the Pipestem Arboretum, this footpath drops along the terrain above Long Branch Lake to reach the wildlife viewing area at the lake's dam. The trail provides the most convenient lake-access to McKeever Lodge. Its route crosses Law Hollow Trail near the lake.

Dogwood Trail -- .6 m

This easy loop wanders through upland forest behind the nature center. It is among the easiest walks afforded in the park and follows a relatively level course through the uplands. Park naturalists on hand, the trail is especially appropriate for young children and budding explorers.

South Side Trail-- .6

From the park road opposite the miniature golf course, this gentle trail leads through a wooded upland hollow to the Lake Shore Trail at the upper end of Long Branch Lake. Piles of rock and the remains of split-rail fences -- remnants of pioneer settlements -- may be spied along the trail.

Canyon Rim Trail -- .7 m

Beginning near the upper tramway station at the Canyon Rim Center, this steep trail descends more than 500 feet to "Heritage Point," a rocky promintory overlooking the Bluestone River Gorge. Despite the effort, the hike to the point attracts thousands of hikers annually.

Lick Hollow Trail -- 1.6 m

A long loop with some rigorous climbs, this pathway journeys through the upper course of Lick Hollow, ascending and descending more than 200 feet, and following the rim of the hollow along the highlands Pipestem highlands. Hikers are afforded unrivalled views of the Bluestone Gorge.

County Line Trail -- 1.9 m

Among the longer park trails, this woodland track ventures steep climbs in its course along Indian Branch to meet the Bluestone River Trail. The route is also a favorite bike and horseback trail, and explorers are rewarded with a visit to Indian Branch Falls, a 45-foot "jump" or "ledge" waterfall that drops freely into a sandstone cirque.

Lake Shore Trail -- 2.2 m

The Lake Shore Trail circuits the park's 16-acre Long Branch Lake, providing access to fishing as well as wildlife observation. Along its circuitous route, the path is intersected by the Cottage, Den Tree, Lake View, South Side, Long Branch, Law Hollow, and Turkey Spur trails. The trail is often traveled as part of a longer biking, horseback, cross-country ski route that incorporates intersecting trails.

Farley Loop Trail -- 3 m

The park's most remote and rugged trail, Farley's loop travels the wall of the Bluestone Gorge opposite McKeever Lodge and the Canyon Rim Center, ascending and descending from the Bluestone River to the summits of Pilot and Bearwallow ridges. Two old cemeteries and a panorama of the Bluestone Gorge from Raven Rocks are among the trail highlights. The trail can only be reached by tramway or the Bluestone River Trail. A patrol cabin is located along the trail in the highlands above Mountain Creek Lodge.

Bluestone River Trail -- 5.25 m

The Bluestone River Trail, Pipestem's longest trail, drops from the rim of the Bluestone Gorge at McKeever Lodge to the banks of the Bluestone River, choosing the gentlest means of descent along the way, though many descents are necessarily steep. At 3.5 miles, travelers may ford the river and continue along the trail, following the north bank of the river to the lower tram station at Mountain Creek Lodge or continuing to the trailheads of the Farley Loop Trail (3 m) or Bluestone Turnpike Trail (8.5 m). The short-but-steep Canyon Rim Trail and rigorous 1.9-mile County Line Trail intersect the Bluestone River Trail at 1.5 and 2.5 miles respectively, affording adventurers a shorter route back to the central park area before the trail descends into the gorge.

Bluestone Turnpike Trail -- 8.5 m

This exceptional long-distance trail, managed by the National Park Service, follows the Bluestone River downstream from Pipestem to Bluestone State Park. It begins as a continuance of Pipestem's Bluestone River Trail, commencing at the park boundary; beyond the park, the trail extends into the Bluestone National Scenic River. The route shadows the former Bluestone Turnpike, a wagon road of the mid-1800s. Multi-day treks, common along the turnpike trail, usually incorporate the 5.25-mile approach by the park's Bluestone River Trail or its 3.35-mile alternate, which incorporates the County Line Trail, trimming three miles off the approach. Some overnighters also opt to descend the park's tram to the river, altogether eliminating longer approaches.

Biking Trails Trails upon which non-motorized biking is permitted include Lake View, Lake Shore, Law Hollow, and Long Branch, in the eastern park, and County Line and Bluestone River, in the western park.

Skiing Trails Trails upon which cross-country skiing is permitted include Cottage, Lake Shore, Lake View, Lick Hollow, North Side, South Side, and Turkey Spur -- all in the eastern park uplands.

Horseback Trails Trails upon which horses may be lead or ridden include County Line Trail, Lake Shore Trail, Lake View Trail, and the Bluestone River Trail. A horseback trail also circuits around the park stables, camping area, and Pipestem Knob.

Pipestem Resort State Park