Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This is a variation of one of the New River Gorge's most popular hikes, Endless Wall.This variation takes you along the cliffs with all the stunning views of the New River Gorge and the crowds of people, but it returns via the lower climber's access trail, offering a vastly different experience. Far fewer people take the climber's access trail along the base of the cliffs. This hard, 4-plus-mile hike starts at the Fern Creek Trailhead for the Endless Wall hike. On busy days, parking can be problematic. The trail starts near the vault toilet.

The microclimates and plants are different with moist thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron. The trail is significantly rougher and harder to follow through the jumble of rocks, talus fields, tunnels, and cracks in the cliffs. Long climbs up and down sturdy ladders bolted to the cliffs are required. The danger is low, but real and deadly if you fall. Near the beginning of the hike is an interesting side trip to the top of the seldom seen Fern Creek Fall.

Endless Wall Trail passes through a stunning mixed forest of hemlocks and deciduous trees as it works its way across the flat plateau toward the cliffs. The trail tread is relatively flat and easy for the cliff-top portions of the hike. It follows the quiet Fern Creek, and in about a half-mile it will cross Fern Creek on a small footbridge.

Note a faint trail on the right just before the footbridge through the rhododendron thicket. Take it for about 100 yards as it follows Fern Creek, which quickly picks up speed near the plunge over the cliff. There is a lot of ducking required to go through the thicket, but the path is obvious. Soon you will come to the end on a small bluff that is just above the creek pouring over the top. Take care, since a fall could put you in the water directly above the 100-foot plunge.

Note the large crack in the house-sized boulder on the opposite side of the creek. Fern creek splits here and takes two different paths to the bottom, one through the crack and the other over the main plunge. The actual falls and bottom are not visible any place from the top except maybe from some of the nearby climbing routes. Still, it is really cool and worth the short side trip since few of the “tourist hikers” make it here, only interested in big views of Endless Wall and the easy hiking it makes. Return to the main Endless Wall Trail, cross the footbridge, and continue along the trail.

In about 0.7 mile from the trailhead, you will come to the first climber's access trail on the right. This will be your return route, so continue straight along Endless Wall. You are now near the cliff tops. Take your time and enjoy the many side trails to the nearly continuous, fantastic viewpoints. Be on the lookout for hawks and vultures soaring along the cliffs and climbers scaling from below.

At a little over 2 miles from the trailhead, farther if you took the many diversions to the overlooks, you will come to the well-signed side trail to Diamond Point with its expansive, nearly 270-degree view of the New River Gorge. The side trail is only about 100 yards. The viewpoint can be crowded, but there is plenty of space for an extended stop and snack at a beautiful shaded viewpoint. Fall foliage and sunset shots would be fantastic from here.

To finish the route via the loop, return to the Endless Wall Trail and turn right to continue farther along Endless Wall. It is only several hundred yards to the next well-signed side trail that takes you to the Honeymoon Climber Access Ladders. Near the cliff tops, be careful about the fall danger, and be sure to not throw anything over the cliffs since there can be many climbers below. If you don’t like heights or rough trails, this would be the place to turn around.

Take care descending the four sets of ladders. The bottom ladder is rather long and has the most exposure. Once on the bottom, facing away from the cliff, turn right. Scout and find the often hard-to-follow climber's access trail. Try your best to minimize erosion by not making new paths. As you continue, you will see many climbers on busy weekends. There are options to go through large cracks in the rock walls or between the huge house-sized boulders that have fallen off the cliffs over the eons. Way too soon, you will round a corner to the right, hike through a rock crack, and come to the second set of ladders to return to the top. It is located at 38.05651, -81.06356. Before ascending, note the sound of rushing water. That is the power of Fern Creek Falls, whose top you visited earlier. Unfortunately, it is an extremely difficult bushwhack to get to the bottom of it. 

There are three sets of ladders and a small rock tunnel to get to the top. Once on top, follow the climber's access trail back to the Endless Wall Trail and turn left to return to the Fern Creek Trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Great short loop hike with fantastic view. High exposures. Seldom seen waterfall.

Cons

Crowds.

Trailhead Elevation

1,765.00 ft (537.97 m)

Highest point

1,864.00 ft (568.15 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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