In 1888, the Blackwater Canyon Trail, located in the Monongahela National Forest, was used to haul coal and lumber through this stunning canyon. Today, remnants of this history still remain just outside of Thomas in the form of coke ovens that line the trail along the mountainside.
The Blackwater Canyon Trail is perfect for hikers or mountain bikers in search of solitude. The relatively straight trail is beautiful, with mountains lining both sides of the canyon, and the roaring of the Blackwater River provides a soothing soundtrack. Better views of the river, including scenic waterfalls, are available during late fall, winter and early spring, when the trees don't have as many leaves.
It is best to follow this trail from Thomas to Hendricks since there is considerable climb in the other direction. As you travel along the Blackwater Canyon Trail, you may happen upon one of several endangered species, including the West Virginia flying squirrel, Indiana bat or the Cheat Mountain salamander. The habitat surrounding the trail is vital to the survival of these species, so it is important to stay on the trail. In Hendricks, it is also possible to pick up the Allegheny Highlands Trail and Limerock Trail (hiking only).
In Thomas, head south on State Route 32 (Spruce Street). Turn right onto Douglas Road, which crosses the trail. Turn left off Douglas Road onto the trail (you can drive on this portion) to reach the trailhead, approximately 1 mile down the road. The trailhead, where there is space for parking, is marked by a Forest Service gate.
In Hendricks, take State Route 72 east through town and turn right on Second Street. The trailhead is on the right. Look for the gazebo and parking at the trailhead.