Hike to High Falls in Monongahela National Forest

8.2 miles 1440 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Lim Tong

A strenuous hike with the reward of an amazing swimming hole below the highest (elevation) waterfall in West Virginia!

Though this beautiful hike is a serious workout, it's actually quite easy to follow. It's also listed on Google Maps - I'd highly recommend downloading the map offline just in case something happens.

Starting at the trailhead (park at a pull-off along the gravel road just a few hundred feet before the trailhead), you'll follow the clearly marked trail (blue diamonds) for a half mile until you reach the intersection with the West Fork Trail (an old access road). 

Continue straight past the grade (sign reads Allegheny trail) through an open field towards the saddle of the mountain straight ahead. You'll follow the trail (now blazed with yellow paint and blue diamonds) for a mile and a quarter until the trail levels out.

Just west of the campsite, you'll see the trail head into an evergreen forest. The Allegheny trail will veer off to your left, continue straight to follow the High Falls Trail blazed with blue diamonds. You'll hike through a hardwood forest and then drop down mountain for about a mile and a half - the trail is very well marked through this portion.

The trail will lead you to train tracks which are used by a scenic train ride. You're going to turn right and follow beside the tracks. Use extreme caution here - these tracks are active and usage can be unpredictable. I tried to check their schedule online and even spoke to a conductor at the waterfall and trains still appeared before the conductor said it would, in the middle of the night, early in the morning and at crazy hours BE AWARE! After about a mile you'll reach a white shelter on the left side of the tracks. 

Once you reach the shelter, it's very simple to find the falls - follow the wooden stairs and view the falls from either the upper viewing platform or take another set of stairs to view the falls face-to-face! Go for a dip, prepare your lure or just kick it back and enjoy these monstrous falls!

Since this hike is located entirely on public property (national forest), you're welcome to camp almost anywhere (dispersed camping guidelines) along this hike. There are several good primitive campsites along this trail, here are some notable:

  • <.5 mile 
    • Just before your reach the intersection with the West Fork Trail, there is a nice spot under a few large pine tree. Great for a night arrival. Good for hammocks or tents. You'll cross a bridge just before this site where you can filter water from.
  • 1.25 miles
    • About 1/3 of the climb up the mountain there is a fire pit just off the trail. This isn't a very flat site, so probably just good for hammocks. No water.
  •  1.5 miles
    • This is the best site before descending the mountain. Just before you reach where the Allegheny Trail splits off, you'll find a great, flat campsite. Good for hammocks or tent. No water.
  • 3.2 miles
    • As soon as you reach the train tracks, there is a nice site along the river bed below the tracks. Water can be filtered from river.
  • 4.1 miles
    • Once you have reached you the falls, there are several options for camping. 
      • During tourist season (Late April - November), there is a great site just southwest of the Upper Falls viewing platform. Great for hammocks or a small tent. You can browse around for other sites, though the river bank is very rocky, steep and narrow. Water can be filtered from river.
      • During tourist off-season (November - Early April), you're welcome to use the train shelter to setup camp. I didn't see a way to setup a hammock under the shelter, but I'm sure someone can get crafty with it. Water can be filtered from river.
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Tags

Chillin
Fishing
Photography
Swimming
Backpacking
Hiking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Not an easy one!

This hike took it out of me but the falls are awesome. Monongahela is a photographers dream, this doesn't disappoint.

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