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Davis, Thomas, and Blackwater Falls State Park, WV

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With just a few hours of daylight remaining, I decided to make a scenic loop north of Seneca Rocks.  Several great places were along the way, including Canaan Valley, Blackwater Falls, and the small towns of Davis and Thomas, West Virginia.

Location

From Seneca Rocks, take US Hwy. 33 west, then WV Route 32 north.  At Davis, watch for signs for Blackwater Falls (to the left).  Thomas is straight ahead on Route 32.  Once you’ve visited both, take WV Route 93 east, then WV Route 42 south.  You’ll end up in Petersburg for the night.

My Visit

It’s a nice drive up from Seneca Rocks to Davis and Thomas, but I didn’t stop very often for pictures.  This cut through the hillside comes just before entering Canaan Valley, an area well-known for its scenic beauty.  I did not detour into Canaan Valley State Park, which must be where all the great scenery is.  I didn’t see anything spectacular along the main road.  That’s not to say it’s ugly — it continues to be a nice drive all the way.

Davis has a small downtown, where not much was happening at 7 o’clock when I rolled through.

Davis’ claim to fame is its elevation.  At 3,200 feet, it’s the highest incorporated town in West Virginia.  Its website brags that the elevation brings cool weather in the summer, and 160 inches of snow, on average, each winter.

One of West Virginia’s most famous waterfalls is just a few minutes away from downtown.  Blackwater Falls State Park is home to its namesake waterfall, a 62-foot cascade of water that sometimes appears dark, thanks to its high content of tannic acid.  There are other trails in the park (as well as a lodge, cabins, and restaurant), but I had just enough time to head straight for the falls.

I was worried that, with my late arrival, the gates to the park would be closed.  They weren’t.  (The park closes at 10pm in the summer.) I also wondered if I’d have to pay an admission fee for my short visit.  I didn’t.  Then, I worried the falls might require a long hike.  Nope.

You will have to make a short, downhill hike (that includes 214 steps, to be exact) to view the falls, but it’s less difficult than most of the other waterfalls I visited on this trip.  The trail leads to a viewing area, where just one picture awaits.

Okay, I found a second picture.  But that’s about all I could do, since the park limits access to the trail and viewing area.  Thankfully, the trail ends at a great spot, and you’ll probably want to stay a while, listening to the Blackwater River crash over the hillside.

Before turning down Route 93 to continue on the loop, I drove on into Thomas, West Virginia, which calls itself “Everybody’s Home Town”.  Thomas is just 3 miles from Davis, so I didn’t need to invest much time to explore the town.

Thomas is built on a hillside.  You’ll enter town on the high road, then make a U-turn and exit on the low road.

The main business area lines up along one side of the low road (East Avenue), while the North Fork of the Blackwater River runs along the other side.  I found Colabrese Brothers General Store to be the most interesting storefront…

… although I’m not sure whether it’s selling antiques, or it’s just that the inventory is getting very, very old.  Unfortunately, it was closed — but I’m not sure it’s been open in the past decade.

As you drive up Route 93, you’ll have a while to stare at the slowly-spinning wind turbines on the hills ahead of you.  The towering giants have caused quite a bit of controversy in West Virginia in recent years.  While wind is abundant on the tops of the Mountain State’s hills (at least for most of the year), the tall turbines stand in shocking contrast with the rest of the landscape.  You can take a close-up look at some of them, at the intersection of Routes 93 and 42, then spend the rest of the drive back to Petersburg, debating the issue.

Day 5

Day 5 began in Petersburg, West Virginia, just as Day 4 did.  Since I had driven over WV Route 28/55 on my way out of town the previous morning, I chose a different route on Day 5, headed down US Hwy. 220.

The drive down US 220 is scenic and relaxing, over rolling terrain.  While there weren’t many twist and turns to make the drive tiring (the first few miles south of Petersburg are curvy, then it opens up), there also wasn’t much worth a stop, until I came upon a rusty old bridge near Upper Tract.

The bridge is a popular fishing spot.  Plus there’s a “Bridge Closed” sign just waiting to be hung up on your garage wall — if you don’t mind wading into the river.

The rest of the drive down US 220 was uneventful, although there were scenes like this one around every turn.

At Franklin, WV, US 220 meets US 33.  Turn west on US 33, and follow it over the mountains to Judy Gap (this is the same area as Nelson Rocks, which we visited on Day 4), then take WV Route 28 south.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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