New River Gorge National Park – the best hiking and restaurants for the perfect day
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is the newest national park in the United States. The New River was established as a national river in 1978 and officially became a national park on December 27, 2020. Fortunately for us dog-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, the New River Gorge continues to be dog-friendly with their new national park title.
The 53-mile long national park covers approximately 70,000 acres and is the perfect place for outdoor adventures with your dog. You’ll find great opportunities for hiking, swimming, water sports, camping, and much more. Whether you’re visiting for a half-day or longer, we’ve created an itinerary and listed additional suggestions for you to make the day your own.
Recommended Full-Day Itinerary
Hike at Grandview Rim Trail
There’s nothing better than a good hike to get you moving first thing in the morning. To start your day on the right foot, we suggest beginning at Grandview Rim Trail. The 3.2 mile out-and-back trail begins at the horseshoe bend overlook of New River and takes you through the forest to Turkey Spur Rock. If you’re ready for lunch after the first hike, there are several picnic sites near the parking area where you can rest and refuel.
Hike at Long Point Trail
If it’s within your hiking ability to do multiple hikes in a day, the second hike we suggest is Long Point Trail. The 3.2 mile trail leads to a rock ledge with panoramic vistas and an exceptional view of the New River Gorge Bridge. If you’re not able to take on a second hike, you’ll be happy choosing either Grandview Rim Trail or Long Point Trail.
Hike at Canyon Rim Boardwalk (Canyon Rim Visitor Center)
After completing your big hikes, there’s one quick hike remaining. The Canyon Rim Boardwalk trail is a short, 5-minute walk that brings you in for a close look at the New River Gorge Bridge and overlooks the New River Gorge below. This trail can be heavily-trafficked but the wait is worth it to get a great photo in front of the bridge.
Grab a Beer, You’ve Earned It!
Now that you’ve had a chance to tire out your pup and quite possibly your own legs, it’s time for that rewarding beverage at the end of the day. The Freefolk Brewery has a wide selection of craft beers and plenty of outdoor space for you to sit with your dog. If you’re looking for a place that’s more family friendly, Wood Iron Eatery is another great dog-friendly spot with outdoor seating options.
Most Popular Dog-friendly Hikes
- Canyon Rim Boardwalk offers the closest view of the New River Gorge Bridge. The 0.2 mile out-and-back trail has a difficulty rating of easy and is located in the Fayetteville area of the park.
- Endless Wall Trail. You’ll see many scenic views including the overlook at Diamond Point. The trail takes on a pleasant journey through the forest and along a cliff edge. The 4.8 mile out-and-back trail has a difficulty rating of moderate and is located in the Fayetteville area of the park.
- Grandview Rim Trail offers impressive views of the river throughout the trail and at the main overlook. The 3.2 mile out-and-back trail has a difficulty rating of moderate and is located in the Grandview area of the park.
- Long Point Trail provides the best overall view of the New River Gorge Bridge. The trail leads you through the forest to a ledge with panoramic views at the viewpoint. The 3.2 mile out-and-back trail has a difficulty rating of moderate and is located in the Fayetteville area of the park.
- Castle Rock Trail features a spectacular view of the river and takes you below steep cliffs with unique rock formations. The 1.2 mile out-and-back trail has a difficulty rating of strenuous and is located in the Grandview area of the park.
- Sandstone Falls Overlook is a short (0.1 mi) trail that takes you directly to a scenic overlook of Sandstone Falls. The trail is located in the Sandstone Brooks area of the park.
Nearby Dog-friendly Restaurants and Breweries
- The Freefolk Brewery is a local favorite and a great place to enjoy a craft beer after a long day of hiking. The brewery has outdoor seating at picnic tables and sectioned seating areas surrounding fire pits.
- Wood Iron Eatery serves breakfast, lunch, baked goods, and coffee. The restaurant has outdoor seating on their patio and picnic table areas.
- The Biergarten at Arrowhead Bike Farm is a restaurant and taproom that serves local craft beers. The restaurant has outdoor seating in their back patio area.
- The Burrito Bar At Breeze Hill serves lunch and dinner and offers an extensive craft beer menu.
- The Pink Pig is a popular BBQ restaurant with outdoor picnic table seating areas.
Basic Park Rules
The park does have a few, but completely reasonable rules for dogs.
- Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times.
- This rule should always be followed. National Parks inhabit a lot of wildlife and it’s our responsibility to ensure that our dogs don’t chase or disturb the wildlife in any way.
- Following this rule also shows National Parks that dog owners are responsible, which may create new opportunities for other parks to lower their pet restrictions in the future.
- Bag your dog’s waste. There are plenty of garbage cans throughout the park where you can dispose of the waste after you bag it.
- If there isn’t a garbage can nearby, a good trick is to put the poop bag underneath your vehicle’s front or rear windshield wiper until you can dispose of it properly. This keeps the odor out of the vehicle until you can find a garbage can.
- Leashed dogs are only allowed on designated trails.
Tips and Suggestions
- Plan Ahead. Before taking your dog on a hike, you must know your and your dog’s hiking abilities. Bring plenty of water and do additional research on the park ahead of time. For more information on New River National Gorge National Park and Preserve, visit their website.
- Annual National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. If you’re planning multiple trips to National Parks and monuments within a year, the annual pass is the best option to save money and it pays for itself after only three visits. Visit the National Park Service website for more information on the annual pass.