Article Credit // Gleason Family Adventure
You hear the song all the time that croons, “take me home, country roads,” but what does that look like for a road trip into West Virginia? Let me give you the ultimate country road trip itinerary to Elkins, West Virginia., It is home to natural beauty, scenic drives, stunning waterfalls, and surprise finds that will excite every visitor. On my recent visit to this charming area of West Virginia, I was taken in by the welcoming community and the realization that a vacation to Elkins is a trip like no other. These are my top seven things to do in Elkins, West Virginia.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
When taking a trip into the Appalachian Mountains, you are enthralled with the deep greens of spring through the summertime, the vibrant gold of fall, and the stark white of winter. Every season in these rolling hills brings a reason to go see the waterfalls.
High Falls of Cheat
Start the day early and be prepared for a day of hiking in some of the most beautiful parts of the Monongahela National Forest. This moderate to difficult hike starts in Glady, WV, where you begin at the West Fork Rail Trail. You will find this hike is not for the faint of heart because it is a 12.6-mile out and back trip.
Mill Creek Falls
I love hikes that are easy to navigate, and Mill Creek Falls is a winner when it comes to easy access. You do need to take a drive up through the gravel dirt road to make it there, but once you arrive and park, the jaunt is quick.
You will need to navigate wooden stairs down to the falls, so wear sturdy shoes and watch your step. Depending on the time of year you come will determine how slippery these steps can be; even in summer, with the moist air, they can be wet.
Pro-tips: Wear good hiking shoes, pack plenty of snacks, ample water, and a first aid kit.
Tucked up high in the sky is the mountain town of Helvetia, and if someone did not tell you about this place, you’d miss it. I had no idea that this town of about 50 people had such a rich and beautiful history. I recommend you come during business hours to experience all the little stops. Since we arrived in the early afternoon, we were able to enjoy the local library and small historical museum, which houses many local pieces, and the librarian is happy to share her local knowledge. Across the street is the local store where you can see the mask museum, grab a snack, and if you have fallen in love with this quiet burg, you can book a newly renovated room there too.
One of the main reasons visitors come to this small mountain oasis is the Hütte Restaurant. Steeped in the swiss roots of the culture, this little restaurant is home to food that has its origins in Switzerland. Every bite tasted savory and delicious, from the house-made sausage to the delectable dessert. Bring cash for this location because they do not accept cards.
Pro-tip: While you won’t need a whole day here, make sure to carve out a couple of hours, and if you really want to get the entire feel of the town, come during the festival.
Enjoy Coffee Shops and Delicious Eats
Elkins comes alive in the mornings with two uniquely different coffee shops. Tip Top Coffee and The Crossing Coffee Bar offer every imaginable coffee and drinks, plus the specialty baked goods are fantastic. We frequented both every day of our trip. While these joints had baked goods, we had read that the Byrd’s House of Donuts was the place to be, so we stopped. All I need to say is that if I could pick this shop up and move it with me to my hometown, I would. I purchased a vanilla cream filling, and when I bit into it, I was taken to “a place I belong.” These country roads in WV have some delicious hidden gems.
If coffee and donuts are not enough to win my heart, the Smoke on the Water BBQ joint sealed the deal. This mouth-watering waterfront eatery has the market for the best-smoked meat in this part of WV!
Pro-tip: Get the burnt ends appetizer…you can thank me later.
Clap Along at the Gandy Dancer Dinner Theatre
Before heading to bed, make sure you take in the local dinner theatre on your trip to Elkins. Gandy Dancer Dinner Theatre was a surprise find, and we were so glad we could enjoy the experience. Dinner was served before the show; on our visit, they served a fantastic plate full of choices that would satisfy any palate.
Once our dinner was finished, the lights dimmed, and the good times started. Every night has a different vibe because the crowds change, and on our evening, there was a family reunion that brought over-the-top excitement. Matt and I clapped, sang along to all the tunes, and joined in the selfie fun. We loved this Branson-style dinner show; the music and comedy kept us smiling for days.
Relax on an Excursion Through the Mountains on a Train Ride
There is something nostalgic about a train ride through the mountainside; this one is no exception. The New Taygart Flyer goes out of Elkins every afternoon springtime through the fall, and this ride books up fast. Our tickets included lunch for the service, which made the ride up the mountain completely relaxing. The destination of this trip is to the High Falls of Cheat, one of West Virginia’s stunning waterfalls. There are only two ways here via the train or a 12.6-mile round trip hike.
One thing I must say about the train ride is that you can take in all the area’s natural beauty without breaking a sweat. You rumble along the tracks and beside the beautiful Tygart Valley River. It was absolutely breathtaking.
Get Out Hiking and Exploring Nature in Randolph County
We based camped for our trip at Revelle’s Riverside Resort and Campground for our journey into nature with our Heartland Sundance 294 BH travel trailer. Our campsite was right on the Shavers Fork and was PERFECTION. Staying, we did not even need to leave to dive into everything outdoors, with kayaking, tubing, and trout fishing right from our location.
Nearby Revelle’s is Bickle Knob Observation Tower, where you can take a scenic drive up the Otter Creek Wilderness area to the parking lot at the trailhead. The hike to the lookout has a steady incline, but it is worth every step. Once you reach the top, you must climb the stairs up to the platform. Slow and steady will win the race, and the views are stunning after you make it up there. You will be glad you made the effort.
Pro-tip: The roads to many of these hikes are off gravel/dirt roads; plan your time accordingly.
Stop and See the History
Culture and history are deep and rich in this corner of the world, and I had no idea how deep. When I began researching for my trip, I discovered that my family roots came from this community. Armed with that information, I visited the Jacob Stalnaker cabin and Stalknaker cemetery to pay my respects to my family.
The Beverly Heritage Center was on my MUST-do list with roots this thick. I learned more about the local history and what made and continues to make this area a place to call home.
Pro-tip: Take the tour of the Rich Mountain civil war battlefield site a few miles from the Beverly History Center.
There is something magical and mystical about the Appalachian mountains in this part of America. They seem to beckon us to these winding country roads that lead to Elkins, West Virginia, which are ones that I look forward to traveling again soon.
*Article written by Gleason Family Adventure – @gleason_family_adventure, in partnership with Elkins-Randolph County Tourism CVB.