Blackwater Canyon Trail

Click on photos to enlarge

Where the trail is in
West Virginia.
Where the trail is in relation
to surrounding states.
Aerial photo. Topo map
24K scale
(2.7 Mb)


There are no "official" parking lots for the Blackwater Canyon Trail but there
are good places to park at each end. The trail drops over 1200 feet as it runs from
Thomas, at the top, to Hendricks at the bottom.

Parking in Thomas, WV -- The top end of the trail

Google map of Thomas

The trail starts just across the North Fork Blackwater River from Thomas.
There are two good places to park to access the head of the trail.
One is where Douglas Road crosses the trail. The other is right on the
main street (East Ave.) in Thomas.
Douglas Road Crossing Parking
When I park near the head of the trail I prefer using the Douglas Road Crossing.
In Thomas turn off of Route 32 onto Douglas Road. Just look for the big sign for
MountainMade Gallery where Douglas Road meets Route 32. You can't miss it. Stay on
Douglas Road for about one mile. As soon as you cross a small bridge the parking area
is on your right. The bridge isn't marked but you will have just crossed the North
Fork Blackwater River.
In the first photo you can see how the parking
area appears as you cross the small bridge. There
are no signs for the Blackwater Canyon Trail but
it crosses Douglas Road at this point.
In the second photo you are looking north with
the trail on the left side of the picture. It
resembles a small gravel track.
Go 0.8 mile north (upriver) on the trail to get
to it's starting point.
The first photo is the view looking south down
the trail. Here the trail is a gravel road.

You can still see railroad ties embedded in
the gravel of the parking area.

Parking In Downtown Thomas
Another way to access the start of the Blackwater Canyon Trail is to park on
East Ave in downtown Thomas, WV.
One advantage of parking in Thomas is you can visit the Purple Fiddle
for a ice cream cone or any of the other shops along East Ave when you're done.
This is a one way street so if coming from the south on Route 32 you'll have to
drive all the way through town and make a U-turn onto East Ave. It won't take
much extra time. The downtown area isn't very big. This street overlooks the
old railroad right of way. You can park on both sides of the street.
Halfway down the street is a ramp that
leads down to the old right of way. You
are going to use the right of way to reach
the trail. The first photo is the view
from the top of the ramp. Second photo is
looking back up from the bottom of the
ramp with the right of way on the left.
Then & Now: How it looked here in 1920.
Head south down the right of way.

You'll pass by these large tanks.
Then & Now: How it looked here in 1912.
Just past the large tanks you come to the
where the Thomas depot used to stand.

This is where the railroad crossed the
North Fork Blackwater River. The old
bridge is still there but it is unsafe
and closed to the public. Directly across
the bridge is what I consider the start
of the Blackwater Canyon Trail but we'll
have to take another route to it.
Look to your left and you'll see the old
right of way continues downriver. This
was originally part of the rail line that
ran to Davis, WV. Continue out the right
of way. It goes uphill for a short way.
The right of way intersects with Douglas
Road directly below MountainMade Gallery.
At this point get on Douglas Road and
coast downhill.

Look for this road leading off to the
right. There is no sign but it is Snyder
Run Road. In the second photo you can
see the road leads to a small bridge
across the North Fork Blackwater River
with the trail visible across the river.
First photo is looking north (upriver)
up the trail. The start of the trail and
the closed railroad bridge is 0.4 mile
that way.

The second photo is the view looking back
the way you just came across the bridge. You
can see the MountainMade Gallery up the hill.

Parking in Hendricks, WV -- The bottom end of the trail

Google map of Hendricks

There is a perfect place to park at the bottom end of the trail.
The Blackwater Canyon Trail ends where the Allegheny
Highlands Trail
begins so there is a very nice trailhead parking lot.

Allegheny Highlands Trail trailhead.
When I bike the Blackwater Canyon Trail
I usually park here. That way after you
bike to the top of the trail in Thomas
the trip back to the car is mostly
one long downhill coast.
A short distance from the parking lot
these gates mark the end of the Allegheny
Highlands Trail.

Directly across Route 72 from the gates
this gravel road marks the bottom end
of the Blackwater Canyon Trail.
Just like with the head end, there are
no signs marking the trail. That's
Canaan Mountain in the distance.

Fun Places To Bike In West Virginia
All information is presented without any assurance of accuracy. Use at your own risk.
Distance measurements are approximate.
All photos © 2008 J. Watson. All rights reserved.