Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

The Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge is located in the largest high elevation valley east of the Rockies. This is 16,000 unspoiled acres of wild mountain paradise. Unique wetlands and shrublands teem with fascinating wildlife. Catch a glimpse of squirrels, white-tailed deer, raccoons, geese and nearly 200 species of birds. Black bears, bobcats and mink are not uncommon. Though peaceful and remote, enjoying this natural expanse is easy thanks to 31 miles of roads and trails for hiking, 23 miles for biking, and 22 miles open for horseback riding. Additionally, Canaan Valley is neighbors with Dolly Sods Wilderness.

Located in the northern sector of the Valley, numerous activities are available to capture the outdoor spirit that Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge offers. Hunting and fishing opportunities are available, but limited. Want to learn more about the beauty surrounding the refuge? Attend an interpretation, open to any age, that educates on the history, cultural, and natural resources along the hike such as the blooming wildflowers and chirping birds. All photographic enthusiasts are welcome to capture the surrounding scenery and even attempt to catch a photo of the bobolink, which is a distinctive bird of the refuge. The refuge also includes 20 different hiking trails that pass through and alongside the patchwork of 23 wetland types and shrublands.

Outdoor Recreation


Includes 20 different hiking trails that range from easy to more difficult depending on the terrain:

Travel along the easier trails which include Freeland Boardwalk Trail, River’s Edge Trail, Hellbender’s Tail Trail, Shady Hollow Trail, Blackwater River Fishing Access Trail, Wilderness Way Trail, and the Fishing Hook Trail. These trails vary from .03 miles to .4 miles long.

Travel along the moderate trails which include Idlemans Run Trail, Beall Trail, Brown Mountain Trail, Brown Mountain Overlook Trail, Camp 70 Loop Trail, Cabin Mountain Spur Trail, Sand Run Trail, South Glade Run Crossing Trail, Middle Valley Trail, Blackwater View Trail, and the Canaan Mountain Trail. These trails vary from .4 miles to 6 miles long.

Travel along the more difficult trails which include Cabin Mountain Spur Trail and Valley Overlook. These trails range from .05 miles to 2.2 miles long.

Freeland Trail

Experience the easiness of the Freeland Trail as you scour the incredible views the Canaan Valley offers. This short .4 mile boardwalk trail makes accessibility available for almost anyone. Walk slowly and enjoy your surroundings as you pass wetlands, shrublands, bustling beaver ponds, and a bubbling spring. Locate a stand of balsam fir that is a plant community typical to Maine and Canada. If you are looking for a short and scenic route, head to Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge to find this trail.

Beall Trails

Travel to the parking area at the end of Beall Lane Road, off Cortland Road, to find the 4.7 mile long Beall Trail system. This moderate trail branches off into many separate Beall trails that offer access to pedestrians, bicycles and horses. Take on the North trail as you find yourself wandering through forests, fields, shrubs, swamps, and bog habitats, or take on the South trail to experience grasslands and the Blackwater River. Wondering how to correctly pronounce this trail so your GPS or Siri correctly shows the correct location? Beall is pronounced as “bell”.

Brown Mountain Trail

A 2-mile trail of moderate difficulty, winds through the forest with a gently increasing grade that leads to Brown Mountain Overlook Trail.

Wildlife Watching

Bird Watching

Tweet Tweet! Hear that sound and many more as you journey through Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge searching for the rich diversity of birds flying among you. The area hosts a variety of events throughout each month especially devoted to bird watching! Grab your binoculars and attend the “beginning birding bird walks” that compares the ethnography of each bird. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Grab a seat on the boat during a guided tour through the Blackwater River to view the birds in the surrounding area.