Trip Report: Low Mileage, Big Marshmallows on Canaan Mountain

As part of our ongoing quest to try new-to-us trails in West Virginia, Karan found a nice route on Canaan Mountain from Mid Atlantic Hikes. We weren’t sure what it was going to be like but when Karan called Blackwater Falls State Park, the ranger assured him, “You’re going to have a great time!”

The group (me, Karan, Atticus, Burke, Cassie, Jeremy, Mimi and Trang) assembled at Vienna on Saturday morning and got on the road around 8:15 AM. It was a surprisingly short drive to Blackwater Falls State Park without the typical traffic and snow we face heading out there for the Whitegrass ski trip. 

We parked at the lodge and checked in with the staff there to let them know that we’d be out for the night. We then set off down the road and quickly found the Yellow Birch Trail. We followed that for a mile before passing by the stable drive and joining up with the Allegheny Trail. I was happy to have the shade of the trees as the day heated up. It was in the low 80s but humid. We crossed a bridge over a small creek. It looked like the bridge had shifted angles from its original resting point but it was still functional. We soon arrived at a boardwalk and took a break at a nearby shelter. 

Photo credit: Karan

After the shelter, we turned onto the Plantation Trail. This trail was flat but seemed to get muddier as we went along. Some of us had close calls with the mud while others gave up on avoiding it. We expected to come across a campsite after passing the junction with the Railroad Grade Trail but didn’t see anything that qualified. We stopped for a break along the trail and found out that Mimi’s phone had fallen out of her pocket. Jeremy (who had cell signal) and Cassie went back to look for it. They successfully recovered it about half a mile back.

Photo credit: Karan

We continued on to the road and the Table Mountain parking lot. Some people went down the road a little ways to get water. Sources were plentiful during the first part of the trail but we hadn’t seen any for a few miles at that point. Fully replenished, we made our way out to Table Mountain where we had a nice view all to ourselves. There were a few small, dry campsites near the summit and only one person set up.

Photo credit: Karan

It was nearing 5:00 PM by the time we hit the trail again. We had a few miles of road walking before we turned onto the Railroad Grade Trail. Trang, who was out in front, missed the less-than-obvious turn but Jeremy caught up with her. Around this time, we realized that Karan had underestimated the mileage for the day but it was still within DCUL’s acceptable margin of error. After regrouping, we headed up the trail and kept an eye out for campsites on the way to the shelter but didn’t find any. It was almost 7:00 PM by the time we reached the shelter. The camping options were limited but we made it work.

Karan started and tended the fire while the rest of us drank the beers he carried in. Cassie brought s’mores supplies so our evening’s entertainment centered on watching people try to cook and eat the jumbo-sized marshmallows. Jeremy’s technique almost earned him the trail name “Skinner” but he accepted the less threatening-sounding “Jumbo.” 

It was a beautiful night. Everyone slept to varying degrees of success except for Mimi, who was too excited about backpacking again to sleep at all. We got on the trail at 7:15 AM the next morning. We quickly made it to the junction and retraced our muddy steps along the Plantation Trail. Then we joined the Lindy Run Trail. A sign warned that this section was no longer maintained. While we did battle some rhododendron, it was one of the prettier sections of trail. We made it to the road that took us to the Lindy Point Trail. This was an easy, well-maintained out-and-back to a scenic overlook. We were there early enough to have it to ourselves but on our way out we saw several people headed that way. 

Photo credit: Karan

We walked down the road until we came to the cross country ski hut. There we hopped on to the Shay Trace Trail, which took us back to the lodge. We stopped at the waterfall overlook on our way out of Blackwater Falls State Park. That may have cost us a shot at the breakfast menu at the Alpine Lodge and Sawmill Restaurant in Davis but everyone seemed pretty satisfied with their lunch. We also stopped for ice cream at Star Mercantile (thanks for treating us, Burke!).

Thanks all for the great trip! We had fantastic weather, great company, and a lot of extra goodies. It was also awesome to welcome both Atticus and Burke to the group!

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