Suggested time: 4-8 hours
Pack a picnic
National Park Canyon Rim Visitor Center
Learn about the rich coal mining history. Walk out to the overlook and get a good view of the New River Gorge Bridge. Browse in the small but excellent bookstore and chat up one of the friendly, well-informed rangers. Grab a map!
Watch the rock climbers
To head down into the gorge, take a right turn at every opportunity after leaving the visitor center. After passing under the big bridge, look to the right to spot the gabions–big metal cages holding rocks. Park in the pull off on the left. A set of stairs takes you up to Bridge Buttress, one of the most popular and easily accessible climbing areas in the gorge. Watch the climbers and you’ll get a good idea of how this exciting and challenging sport works.
Continue to the bottom of the gorge and cross the old Fayette Station Bridge. (The very best view of the big bridge is from the center of the old bridge, so if traffic allows, hop out and snap some photos) Look for a little wooden bridge on the right that leads to a parking area. Stroll down to the river to watch the kayakers and rafters run the last big rapid of their trip. Throw rocks. Build castles. Fish. Picnic. Or just sit and watch the river go by.
Kaymoor Mine Hike
Hop back in the car and head up the north side of the gorge. A mile up the road, in a hair pin curve, you will see a pull off with a National Park Service kiosk. This is the trailhead for a 1.8 mile hike out to the remnants of the Kaymoor Mine. After a short climb the trail rolls along and provides great views and interpretive signs. For bonus fitness points, take the 800 steps down to the bottom and check out the rest of the old mine site. Very cool!
Dine in Fayetteville
After your busy, physical day, you’ll need to relax and tell stories over a good meal. Continue up the south side of the gorge until you hit Rt. 19. Go straight across the highway and you’ll run into Pies and Pints in less than a mile. Or head further uptown for Cathedral Café, Gumbos, or Sedona Grill.
Head back to Opossum Creek Retreat for a soak in your hot tub.