The Best Places to See Wildflowers in West Virginia

Dolly Sods Mountain Flowers Trail
Dolly Sods Mountain Flowers Trail | © Forest Wander / Flickr
Photo of Kristina Gaddy
14 April 2018

West Virginia is full of beautiful places, no matter the season. But in the late spring, you’re in for a special treat. The snow has melted, and warmer temperatures arrive. Plus, the mountainsides erupt in wildflowers. During late April and May, you can find great places to see the flowers in natural areas across the state. Here are the seven best places to check out.

WVU Core Arboretum

Forest, Park, University
Map View
Trail Inside Core Arboretum | © Darren Ringer / WikiCommons
Located right next to the West Virginia University Evansdale campus and part of the Department of Biology, the Core Arboretum offers a little oasis in Morgantown, West Virginia. On your own, you can hike or bike the trails (and the trail map conveniently shows you exactly where you can find certain flowers and plant life). Or during April, you can join one of the guided wildflower walks or hang out all day during the Spring Wildflower Festival, which features the guided walks but also bands, food trucks, and activities for kids.

Canaan Valley Resort

Building, Sports Center
Map View
© Nick Maslen / Alamy Stock Photo

In the heart of Canaan Valley in the high Allegheny Mountain plateau, you can find great outdoor experiences year-round. In the spring and early summer, Canaan Valley Resort State Park is a perfect spot to see wildflowers. Along the 18 miles (29 kilometers) of trails, you’ll see unique flowers and plant life a little later than the surrounding areas because of the colder climate in the valley. Once you’re done with your wildflower wandering, the nearby towns of Thomas and Davis have great breweries, restaurants, and coffee shops to check out.

Dolly Sods Wilderness

Forest, Park
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Dolly Sods sunrise | © Nicolas Raymond / Flickr

At the edge of Canaan Valley in the Monongahela National Forest is the Dolly Sods Wilderness area, known for expansive land where you can hike on 47 miles (76 kilometers) of trails and back-country camp. In the spring when the wildflower viewing is best, many of the trails are still muddy, and the weather can change rapidly. So, make sure you have adequate footwear and clothing for the hike. But no matter the weather, the views of beautiful forests and mountains will take your breath away.

Blackwater Falls State Park

Natural Feature
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Blackwater Falls
Blackwater Falls | © Mehul Antani / Flickr

Near Canaan Valley and Dolly Sods is Blackwater Falls State Park. The huge waterfall in the park is worth seeing any time of year, but if you come in the late spring, you’ll see lots of blooming rhododendrons on the trails. Every year in May, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources also hosts the West Virginia Wildflower Pilgrimage, which offers two days of guided tours through area parks, the wildlife refuge, and the national forest. There are lots of tours and walks to choose from, and some are specially designed to be family- and kid-friendly.

New River Gorge

Bridge, Natural Feature
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New River Gorge
New River Gorge Bridge, WV | © bobistraveling / Flickr

The New River Gorge National River Area has miles of trails for hiking and biking that are great any time of year. In the spring, you can visit during the Wildflower Weekend, which features ranger-guided hikes along the river, as well as at five nearby state parks. All of the events are free and family-friendly, and some combine art and hiking for a unique way to experience wildflowers.

Kanawha State Forest

Forest, Park
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Artomyces pyxidatus (Pers.) Jülich in the Kanawha State Forest | © walt sturgeon (Mycowalt) / WikiCommons
If you are in the Charleston area, check out flowers in the Kanawha State Forest. The forest has 25 miles (40 kilometers) of trails, 46 campsites, and is well known for its diverse plant and animal life. On the fourth Saturday of each April, visit the annual Osbra Eye Memorial Wildflower Walk and have a naturalist lead you through some of the unique spring flowers like wild sweet Willam, Jack in the pulpit, and flowering pawpaw trees, and you might see some cool spring mushrooms too!

Oglebay Resort and Conference Center

Building, Sports Center
Map View
Courtesy of Oglebay Resort and Conference Center / Expedia

The Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia, is on the former estate of Earl W. Oglebay, a developer of iron mines in Wisconsin and Michigan. Today, the sprawling resort includes the Schrader Environmental Education Center, which has a wildflower and butterfly garden, along with nature classes for kids and adults.