Weekend Getaways: An extensive 3-day itinerary to Tucker County, West Virginia

From rugged mountain peaks to miles of greenery, Tucker County is the perfect hideaway for a scenic weekend with the family.

canaan valley
Canaan Valley State Park’s scenic chairlift (Photo courtesy of Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Drive time from NoVA: 3 hours

With a combination of stunning scenery and adventurous activities, a visit to the Tucker County region is ideal for families and photographers alike. Tucker County is West Virginia’s second-least populated county and, with two designated Wilderness Areas (Dolly Sods and Otter Creek), it offers an idyllic countryside landscape far away from life’s frenetic pace. The county only has one traffic light, but is lush with fragrant pine trees and rugged mountain peaks. In the fall, Tucker County’s spell-binding foliage makes photographers and Instagrammers swoon.

Where to stay

For groups and families, it’s fun to rent a cottage or vacation home. Check out Canaan Valley’s Mountaintop Rentals or Canaan Realty for a choice of one- to five-bedroom homes. For the most luxurious experience, choose Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center with a variety of dining options, access to golf, pools and the resort’s scenic chairlift, plus the calming Spa at Canaan. Kids can play at the arcade. The Club amenities are open to guests staying in the resort’s cottages, rental homes and lodge. For rustic, comfortable accommodations, Blackwater Falls Lodge is inside the Blackwater Falls State Park, near the famous waterfall. It has an indoor pool. The retro-style Billy Motel & Bar offers a welcoming staff and is within walking distance to restaurants in downtown Davis.

Day 1

Begin your first day with a lunch stop at Sirianni’s Pizza Cafe, a lakeside joint in downtown Davis. The pizza and pastas are beloved by local ski teams, and views of the serene lake helps you gear up for your relaxing getaway.

Take a guided ride through the Canaan Valley’s spruce forests. Mountain Trail Rides offers hour and full-day horseback excursions on its practiced steeds—their sure-footed approach on uneven terrain feels safe, even on the steep inclines. With Barnyard Babies Petting Zoo, mining for gemstones, and a giant sandbox in a sheltered cave, families can spend the whole day there. For a longer ride, try the Mountain Adventure Excursion Ride, a five-hour jaunt that includes lunch and rest time. Nearby Double S Stables may be a better choice for beginners and youngsters.

Arrive before 4:30 p.m., to take Canaan Valley State Park’s scenic chairlift. Then dine at Canaan Valley Resort’s Laurel Lounge. Guests rave about the grilled chicken wonton tacos and Rodeo Sliders. The resort hosts Family Game Night on select nights, and, in the winter, live bluegrass music.

biking in canaan valley
Mountain Biking through Canaan Valley’s spruce forests (Photo courtesy of Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau)

What’s New

Tucker County has just introduced Fat Tire Bikes from the Blackwater Bikes rental shop in downtown Davis. If you’re looking for technically challenging terrain, Tucker County has some of the best. Get your heart pumping on the region’s Hellbender Cirque, a trail with 15 miles of steep ascents and descents in high-altitude mountains.

Day 2

Grab breakfast at the Bright Morning Inn in Davis. Regulars ask for the sausage, gravy and buttermilk biscuits and the Banana Dream French Toast. Then, lace up your hiking shoes for a 1.3-mile climb to Lindy Point and Pendleton Point, two awe-inspiring overlooks in Blackwater Falls State Park. The park is best known for its 57-foot cascade where the Blackwater River enters Blackwater Canyon. Take in the resiny smells of spruce and hemlock trees—tannin from falling needles blanket the floor of these forests, then melting snow leaches tannin into the streams, turning Blackwater River the color of tea. Wild blueberry bushes change to brilliant scarlet, while the hardwood trees—oak, beech, hickory—become a collage of russet, ginger and gold. If possible, stay until sunset, as the layers of mountains glow pink and violet. You can pick up lunch at The Smokehouse at Blackwater Falls Lodge.

Hiking stirs up an appetite, so dine at Hellbenders Burritos for a steak, pork, chicken, tofu or black bean burrito smothered in tomatillo salsa and guacamole. The generous portions mean leftovers are nearly guaranteed. After lunch, peruse the WV Highlands Artisans Group for Appalachian crafts; highlights include metalwork jewelry, checkerboard cutting boards, high-glazed ceramic bowls and hand-carved soapstone. Wild Ginger & Spice, inside a historic stone bank building, is a “hippie shop” that sells unique goods like musical instruments from around the world, Tibetan prayer flags and locally made jam.

After a day of forest bathing and shopping, sample local craft beers at Mountain State Brewing Co. with amusing names like Dolly Sods Cranberry Wheat and Seneca Indian Pale Ale, honoring the region’s landmarks. Mountain State Brewing’s beer-snack menu features munchies, pretzels and quesadillas.

blackwater falls
Blackwater Falls (Photo courtesy of Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Day 3

Before heading out the next morning, stop in at Trailhead Coffee Shop in Davis for locally roasted Stone Tower Joe java and trail snacks, then drive one hour south to West Virginia’s highest peak, Spruce Knob. The perspective from 4,863 feet is mesmerizing. Climb the observation deck and amble over to the boulders on the East Overlook for the choicest panoramas.

From the parking lot, hike the 2-mile Huckleberry Trail, named for the huckleberry bushes that have adapted to this harsh environment.

Make your last meal a country feast at Gateway Restaurant and Lounge. The fried chicken, biscuits and fruit cobblers will leave you wishing for a return to this natural paradise.

This post originally appeared in our September 2019 issue as part of the Weekend Getaways cover story. For more travel content, subscribe to our newsletter.

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