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Babcock State Park WV

Babcock State Park WV is one of the most photographed and visited spots in the entire state of West Virginia.   This 4,000+ acre park offers gorgeous mountain scenery, hiking, fishing, and boating.  All perfect for that remote, quiet and outdoor getaway.

The park is also a bucket list location for many landscape photographers due to the incredible views, historic structures, and beautiful Fall Colors.   Babcock State Park is most well known for the Glade Creek Grist Mill.

Let's explore this wonderful, remote and hidden gem, all part of Wild and Wonderful, West Virginia.

Where is Babcock State Park?

Babcock State Park is located in Southeast West Virginia, in a small old coal mining town call Clifftop.  The Park has a number of scenic creeks, and sits on the edge of the New River Gorge.   The land that is now the park, was used by the Mann's Creek Railroad to bring coal from Clifftop down to the C&O mainline in Sewell West Virginia.

The park is not far from the New River Gorge Bridge.

Our Personal Connection to Clifftop and Babcock State Park

We'll admit, we're a bit partial to Clifftop and Babcock State Park, but for many good reasons.  The first being that my (Larry) family is all from this area.   I have close family in Clifftop, Corliss, Ansted, and Rainelle.  

My Dad, grand-parents, great grandparents, and generations before them lived in this area, and are buried here.  My Dad swam in Glade Creek as a kid.   My cousin owns and runs a bed and breakfast in Clifftop, and I have other relatives that work in the area, including Hawks Nest.  So needless to say, it's a special place for us, and in some ways, home.

Babcock State Park is also one of the most beautiful and scenic parks we've visited, with lots to do, and honestly, it's a photographers dream with the mill, creek, historic structures, scenic views, and lake.   You could easily spend days here exploring all there is to see, and photographing it.

Not far is the New River Gorge Bridge, a site to see and visit as well.

All about Babcock State Park

Babcock State Park WV is a state park, located in the New River Gorge area of West Virginia, in the small mountain town of Clifftop WV.   The park is 4,127 acres of beautiful woodland, and is about 20 miles away from the famous New River Gorge Bridge.

The Park's main attraction is Glade Creek Grist Mill, one of the most photographed locations in the state of West Virginia, and on the East Coast.  The Mill was constructed in 1976, from parts of many different mills, and is a replica of Cooper's Mill, that was located nearby.

Babcock State Park features:

  • Gift shop and Visitor Center
  • Glade Creek Grist Mill - which you can walk through
  • 28 cabins
  • 52 campsites
  • More than 20 miles of hiking trails, from easy to strenuous (with incredible views)
  • 19-acre beautiful Boley Lake
  • Outdoor sports facilities, including basketball, tennis, volleyball, and horseshoes.  They also have a swimming pool.
  • Watercraft rentals, including paddleboats, rowboats and canoes
  • Lake and stream fishing
  • Picnic Shelters and tables

What to do in Babcock State Park?

Most visit Babcock State Park to see Glade Creek Grist Mill, and Glade Creek itself.   They visit, take some photos, then leave, not realizing there is so much more to Babcock State Park.   Let's explore some of the many options to see and do in Babcock State Park WV.

Visit and Photograph Glade Creek Grist Mill

As mentioned, the primary attraction and one of the most photographed spots in West Virginia is Glade Creek Gristmill, near the gift shop and visitor's center.  This 1976 recreation of of the Cooper Mill that was nearby is a beautiful old mill, made from parts of other mills in the area.  

This is an operating Mill that you can walk through, and you can even purchase fresh ground corn-meal, ground right there at the mill!  

There are a number of really great photo locations, with the most popular being downstream from the gift shop, as there is a small and pretty waterfall below the mill.  This is the shot you often see hanging on walls in various locations, and in calendars.

Be sure to visit the Visitors Center and Gift shop while you're there!   It's a nice little store.  Oh, and check out the live cam to see what the mill looks like right now - This is great for in the Fall and Winter.

The Glade Creek Grist Mill closes for the season on the last Sunday in October. 

Explore Boley Lake

Boley Lake is a beautiful 19 acre lake that offers paddleboats, rowboats, and canoes for rent at the Marina.  The lake provides excellent fishing as well.  

During the Fall, the scenes around the lake are breath-taking, surrounded by the bright Fall colors.  

The Boley Lake View Trail is a 1.2 mile trail, that is rated easy, that allows you to walk around the lake, and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Hiking

Babcock State Park has 15 different hiking ranking from easy to difficult.  Top rated trails include:

  • Skyline Trail, Rocky and Narrow Gauge Loop - This hike uses three different trails to form a beautiful 4.4 mile loop that is rated moderate in difficulty.  The trail offers beautiful vistas.   The Narrow Gauge trails follows the old Mann's Creek railroad line, and old remains of the railroad can be seen.
  • Island in the Sky Trail - This moderate .5 mile trail provides beautiful views, and begins at the Gristmill.  The hike from here is mainly up hill.
  • Boley Lake View Trail - As mentioned earlier, this is any easy 1-mile loop trail around Boley Lake.
  • Old Pond and Narrow Gauge Loop Trail - Old Pond is moderately difficult, and provides nice views, then merges into Narrow Gauge Loop, for a 6.5 mile and moderate hike.
  • Triple Creek Trail and Wilderness Loop Trail - Beginning at the swimming pool, Triple Creek Trail is moderate to difficult and features 3 really pretty creek crossings, before merging into Wilderness Loop trail.  

Photography

Babcock State Park is frankly, photographer heaven.  The Park is full of beautiful, scenic and remote photo opportunities.   While the park can be busy at times, getting great photos of the most popular areas without people in them isn't too difficult, and just requires a little patience.

During the Fall, the park is at  peak season, and can be very busy, especially at Glade Creek Grist Mill.  Parking in the main lot there is often full.

Glad Creek Grist Mill is the most popular and well known photo location.  Photos of Glade Creek Grist Mill can be found on many walls and in calendars all over the US.  The Mill is easy to access, with parking nearly right next  to it.  There are a number of vantage points for photos as well, and all of them are excellent.  You can also fly drones here during limited hours each day, just check in with the visitor's center first.

Boley Lake is also beautiful, and very photogenic, especially in the Fall.   The best way to get photos, is to walk along the Boley Lake Trail.

A number of the rentable cabins are old, and original CCC camp homes.  These make for some really nice structure photos, especially when surrounded by Fall colors.

The hiking trails offer access to some beautiful scenic views, and gorgeous small streams and creeks.

The whole park is beautiful, and just begging to be photographed.  We definitely plan to make more trips here, and will update the article with the new photos we come back with.

Where to stay when visiting Babcock State Park

The Blissful Bear Bed and Breakfast

When we visited Babcock State Park and Clifftop recently, we stayed at the Blissful Bear Bed and Breakfast.  This wonderful and historic Bed and Breakfast, was once the original school building for Clifftop.   My (Larry) Father went to school here until 8th grade.

Having seen the building when it was just an old closed down school, and seeing it more recently as a Bed and Breakfast, was surprising and wonderful.  It's amazing what the owners, my cousin and her husband, have done, and how wonderful they have made it.  

The downstairs area, features a large common area, with big screen TV, pool table, large dining table, and small bar.   On the opposite side is the kitchen, which was the original kitchen for the school.   Children would line up in the kitchen for their food, and then move to the cafeteria building to eat.  The Cafeteria building is where the outdoor deck is today.

Upstairs are the guest rooms, and there are multiple king and queen size rooms, with full bathrooms.  The rooms are made up from the original classrooms and auditorium of the school.  The front principle's office is a storage area and office.

The Blissful Bear makes for a wonderful and historic place to stay when visiting Babcock State Park, and other nearby attractions such as the New River Gorge Bridge, and Hawksnest.  The Blissful bear is literally a 5 minute drive from the main entrance to Babcock State Park.

Be sure to tell them that cousin Larry sent you!

Blissful Bear Bed and Breakfast: 304-438-7173 - 373 Clifftop Road Danese, WV 25831

Cabin Rentals

If you prefer to stay in the park itself, there are a number of great options, from rustic old CCC Cabins to more modern and spacious vacation cabins.

There are a total of 28 cabins available for vacation rentals.  13 of them are near the grist mill, and the remaining 15 cabins are located deeper into the woods of the park, and more remote.   

Three styles of cabins are available: Vacation Cabins, Legacy Cabins (old CCC cabins), and Economy Cabins.  They have cabins that are dedicated pet-friendly, and others where no pets are allowed for those that may have allergies.

Cabin 13 is a bit famous, as a preacher murdered his wife one night in 1996.  Guests staying at the cabin since then, have reported strange happenings, including seeing the ghostly figure of a lady, in and around the cabin.  Additionally, unusual low volume sounds have been heard, including female voices.

Camping

Babcock State Park as a really nice 52 unit campground, located in the heart of the park.  The campground is open Spring through Fall.   Campground Amenities include:

  • 52-units, with 28 sites with electric hookups, four of which are accessible and 24 non-electric sites
  • Sites Accommodate tents or trailers and there is a central bathhouse and coin-operated laundry available
  • Two water fill-up stations and two dump stations
  • Firewood and ice are available for purchase
  • WiFi service
  • Cell phone service is available, but can be spotty.

Where to eat when visiting Babcock State Park

There are no restaurants in or directly around Babcock State Park.   If you decide not to bring your own food, or keep your own food with you, you'll need to drive to one of the local towns to find restaurants.   Local West Virginia towns include:

  • Rainelle
  • Fayetteville
  • Ansted


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About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.

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