Hike the Cathedral Trail in Cathedral SP

1.1 miles 0 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Samantha Wood

Explore one of the last virgin old-growth Hemlock forests and ecosystems while hiking Cathedral Trail

Cathedral Trail is a part of Cathedral State Park located east of Aurora, WV. Cathedral State Park was originally the site of Brookside Resort which attracted visitors from Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD due to it’s cool clean air and natural beauty. The land was purchased in 1922 by Mr. Branson Haas, a workman for the Brookside Resort. Then, in 1942, Mr. Haas sold the land to the state of West Virginia with the provision that it remains untouched by ax or saw. In 1965, Cathedral State Park was entered into the National Registry of Natural Landmarks.

Cathedral State Park is located on Northwestern Turnpike (Route 50), a well-maintained road. Always check local weather conditions before beginning your trip – www.wv511.org can be a helpful resource for traffic and accidents while www.weather.gov/rlx/ provide local weather conditions. The main entrance to the park can be difficult to see at first as it sits below the road. Look for Melanie’s Family Restaurant which is across the street and sits above the road, making it easier to find when driving by.

There are two parking lots to your left when first entering the park. The upper parking lot is paved but unlined and is the larger of the two. The lower parking lot offers handicap accessible spots. 

The trail head for Cathedral trail is located off the middle of the upper parking lot on the right when you first enter the lot. Look for an informational sign and a set of stairs to identify the trail head. 

The virgin old-growth Hemlock trees are the grand attraction in this historic park. The trees can range up to 90 feet in height (too tall to see the top!) and 16 feet in circumference (so large you can’t wrap your arms around them!). The large trees create a thick canopy that keeps the park cool, moist, and muted year-round.

Rhine Creek gurgles and babbles underneath numerous bridges and elevated walkways throughout the park. Cathedral Trail includes at least nine bridges and one water crossing over Rhine Creek. The water crossing was at most 2 inches deep, but it is challenging to navigate around without getting a little wet. Due to the creek meandering throughout the park, the trails remain moist year-round. Expect wet conditions especially during winter.   

The trail offers little in elevation gain. Most of the trails including Cathedral Trail are relatively flat with a few easy to moderate climbs and descents. The trail does include roots and rocks so close-toed shoes are recommended. Some parts of Cathedral Trail are covered in peat gravel which makes the trail much easier to navigate.

There are two covered picnic shelters within the park but only one is located off Cathedral Trail.  

While camping is not available within the park, overnight accommodations are available nearby in Blackwater Falls State Park (30-minute drive) and Canaan Valley State Park (45-minute drive).

Dogs and cats are happily welcomed but must be leashed at all times. All West Virginia State Park rules are regulations can be found here.

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area


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Camp in Blackwater for easy access

If you're staying in nearby Blackwater State Park, it makes access to Cathedral really easy and doable for a change of scenery. The old growth is awesome!

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