If you’re looking for a hike that will take you to the very best viewpoint for the New River Gorge Bridge, you need to take a walk out the Long Point Trail. This is an easy hike on the south side of the gorge that takes you onto a ridge with a direct view of the bridge.
You can access the Long Point Trail in two locations. For both, exit US 19 onto WV 16 and drive through downtown Fayetteville. Watch for Gatewood Road to split off to the left. Take Gatewood Road (County Road 9) 1.8 miles, then turn left onto Newton Road, and you’ll arrive at the first trailhead. To access the alternative trailhead, continue past Newton Road to the next left (Kaymoor Road) and turn left. Follow Kaymoor Road almost to the end (you will need to turn left at a split in the road). Park at the trailhead for Kaymoor Miner’s Trail and Butcher Branch Trail.
During my visit in late summer 2017, the first trailhead for the Long Point Trail was closed, and the parking lot was under construction. So, I ended up at the Butcher Branch Trailhead. This route is just as good as the other one, it’s not any harder, and it’s about the same length (about 1.5 miles to Long Point, one way, from either trailhead), so don’t worry if you end up here. The Butcher Branch Trail is about 8/10 of a mile long, and it ends at the Long Point Trail at a well-marked intersection. You can’t go wrong.
No matter which way you start this hike, you’re going to spend some time hiking through the woods. It’s not a difficult hike, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, even though there wasn’t much to see along the way. After about a mile and a half, you arrive at the end of the trail — the viewpoint.
Long Point Trail: The Viewpoint
And what a view it is! The Long Point ridge comes to a dramatic end at this outcropping, which seems to line up perfectly with the stately New River Gorge Bridge. From here, it feels like you’re looking right up the middle of the gorge.
At this point, the New River Gorge Bridge is almost due north of you – and that means throughout the day, it will be wonderfully lit by the sun in the southern sky. There’s no good time not to hike this trail.
If there’s one downside to the Long Point Trail and its excellent viewpoint, it’s that there really is just one view. You can photograph the whole bridge, or zoom in on the arch…
… or zoom in on the middle of the bridge to see the traffic zipping by. You may also notice some ropes hanging over the edge. During my visit, some road inspection crews were examining the structure of the bridge. It was a weird experience the previous day, when I was on the catwalk underneath the bridge, to look over and see them suspended over the gorge, just a few feet away!
You can, of course, turn around and look down the gorge. There are some spots along the trail just before the main viewpoint that provide some nice views in the opposite direction. But without the bridge, this view is less exciting.
[tmt_info =””]The best time to hike this trail might be in mid-October when the leaves are changing. The New River Gorge usually sees some good fall colors around this time. You might also want to plan your trip around the third Saturday in October, which is usually when Bridge Day is held. Long Point would be an excellent spot to watch BASE jumpers take the plunge from the bridge! But, I’d guess it will be very crowded on that day.[/tmt_info]
Once you’ve soaked in the gorgeous view of the gorge and the bridge for a while, you’ll need to hike back the way you came, for a total distance of about 3 miles.
Here’s a look at the drive out to the Kaymoor Miners Trailhead/Butcher’s Branch Trailhead from Fayetteville:
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT2-RTofdQ4″]< video >[/su_youtube]
If you hike just one trail while visiting the New River Gorge, the Long Point Trail would be my suggestion. It’s an easy and relaxing hike through the woods, leading up to the very best viewpoint of the New River Gorge Bridge.