Babcock State Park is a must-see! Beyond the iconic Grist Mill, the park has numerous scenic trails, a beautiful stream, and a relaxing vibe that will help you forget your worries.
Hikes And Top Sights In Babcock State Park, West Virginia
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Babcock state park is located in Clifftop, West Virginia, roughly thirty minutes from the iconic New River Gorge Bridge. There are two entrances to the park, with the main park entrance being near the Grist Mill. There are no entrance fees.
October is the busiest time of year for the park due to the changing color of the leaves, adding even more beauty to the park’s already spectacular views.
Glade Creek Grist Mill
The star attraction of Babcock State Park is the Glade Creek Grist Mill, a replica of Cooper’s Mill that used to stand in the area. The mill is recreated from three different grist mills. The main part of its structure came from the Stoney Creek Grist Mill, which dates back to 1890. The two other mills used in the replica were Spring Run Grist Mill and Onego Grist Mill.
The pieces of the three mills were brought to Babcock State park and assembled. The Glade Creek Grist Mill was completed in 1976 and is fully operational. Depending on stream conditions, guests can purchase cornmeal that has been ground on-site.
Although I am a massive fan of RVing, I have been sending hints my husband’s way that I would love to be surprised by a weekend stay at one of these cabins ever since we visited Babcock State Park.
They look so cozy and inviting. I googled what the insides look like, and now I can’t stop imagining curling up by one of their wood fireplaces with a good book on a cold wintry weekend.
There are 28 of these cabins available for rent in the park. They vary in size and luxury, and a few are pet-friendly.
The park also has a 52-site campground; roughly half have electric hookups. It is open from late April to late October.
My daughter and I stayed in a primitive campsite during my second visit to the park. We found the site more than adequate for our large canvas tent. And we’re thankful to have amenities such as flush toilets and hot showers nearby.
Island In The Sky Trail
Island in the sky trail takes you up to the top of an island of rock. You climb around a cliff and then through large boulders to get there. You are supposed to see beautiful views from the top, but the day we were there, it was foggy, so we did not get to see any views. The trail starts near the Grist mill and ends on one of the park roads. The path is half a mile long and doable by all except those who can’t manage stairs.
You can make a loop out of Skyline Trail by adding Rocky Trail, Narrow Gauge Trail, and a short walk on Sewell Road. That is pretty much what we did, although we decided to skip the part of the Skyline trail that goes beyond Rocky Trail since it was foggy. If you go on a sunny day, you are going to want to hike to the end, as just a few glimpses we got of the valley views convinced me that if we ever do make it back to Babcock State Park, we are redoing the Skyline trail to see the views we missed.
Although we missed out on the views along the Skyline trail, we did enjoy walking on a blanket of colorful fall leaves.
The Rocky Trail is a connector trail between the Skyline and the Narrow Gauge trail. It consists of a staircase made of stones put in place by the CCC back in the 1930s. When these stones are covered in wet leaves, they are slippery yet beautiful.
Narrow Gauge Trail
The Narrow Gauge trail follows the path the Manns Creek Railway used to take. This makes the trail wide enough to walk hand in hand while you soak up the views of the surrounding woods and stream.
A swinging suspension bridge crosses Glade Creek along this trail. If you are not a fan of swinging bridges, you won’t have any issues crossing this bridge; it is super solid and swings very little. It is a great spot to get pictures of the water flowing over the rocks in the stream–and perhaps even a selfie!
Old Sewell Road
The Narrow Gauge trail comes to an end at Old Sewell Road. You can follow the road back to wherever you parked your car. The road passes by a few different rock formations along the way and several picturesque cabins.
More Trails To Hike
In one day with my husband and half a day on my return visit with my daughter, there still wasn’t enough time to enjoy all the trails this large park has to offer. Here are a few more to enjoy.
Old Pond Trail–1.5 miles
Ridge Top Trail–2 miles
Lake View Trail–1 mile
Manns Creek Gorge Trail–2 miles
Mountain Heath Trail–.25 miles
North Slope Trail–.5 miles
Triple Creek Trail–1 mile
Twin Hollow Trail–.5 miles
Wilderness Trail–1.5 miles
Each trail has something unique to it that makes it worth the hike.
On our way out of the park, we decided to check out the natural arch that we saw marked on the park map. The trailhead for this short hike is located on the side of the road off the service road between the campground and the economy cabins.
Of course, every arch in nature is beautiful and unique in its own way, but this arch can’t compete with the arches we have seen in places such as the Red River Gorge area and the giant one found in Virginia just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Despite the lack of a WOW arch, Babcock State Park in West Virginia is drop-dead gorgeous and needs to be on your “must explore” bucket list. And while you are in the area, be sure to check out America’s newest National Park.
More Things To Do In Babcock State Park
At over 4000 acres, there is more to do in Babcock State Park than enjoy the mill and hike the trails.
Go Mountain Biking
All paved and gravel roads are open to bikers. Several of the hiking trails are open to mountain bikers.
Enjoy Some Time On Boley Lake
From Memorial day to Labor day, you can rent paddleboats, rowboats, and canoes at the Boley Lake Marina.
You can bring your electric motored boat to Boley lake to fish, or you can fish along the banks of Glade Creek. Make sure you have the proper license.
There are two cache sites for tech-savvy park guests to find.
Take In A Tour
During the summer months, park naturalists host nature tours of the park.
The park’s nature trails are a paradise for landscape photographers wanting more pictures than just the iconic grist mill of the park.
Are you looking for an alternative to busy and expensive campgrounds and one-night Walmart stops on the way to your destination? Check out our post about our first time using Boondockers Welcome.