- Location: Gauley Bridge, WV (Fayette County)
- Elevation: 728 feet
- Coordinates: 38.159080, -81.186608 / (38° 9′ 32.688” N, 81° 11′ 11.7888” W)
- Waterway: Laurel Branch
- Height: 40 to 50 feet
Hidden Falls is a beautifully tall but not well-known waterfall in Fayette County in the Gauley Bridge area. The waterfall is named Hidden Falls because it is not visible from any roadway for most of the year for the exception of winter. However, during after periods of heavy rainfall, it can easily be heard from US-60.
To locate Hidden Falls, drive onto US 60 until you’re just east of the town of Gauley Bridge. So, heading east on US 60, you’ll want to pass where the Gauley empties into the New River to form the Kanawha River. Heading west, you’ll want to pass Cathedral Falls and then start watching for a campground on your left. You’ll want to park at a campground area located along the New River between the confluence of the New and Gauley rivers and Cathedral Falls. The campground is aptly named New River Campground Inc. according to Google Maps. In between these two locations is also a shopping center, with a couple of stores, one of them being a CVS. You could park there as well. I parked in a small wide spot just past the shopping complex heading east right before the campground, but any of these locations will work.
Hidden Falls Location
Once you have parked, look for a stone culvert that allows Laurel Branch to empty into the New River. The culvert looks quite old and may have been built when the nearby railroad was placed. Carefully cross US-60 and walk to either the left or the right side of the culvert.
Don’t travel through it, but instead search for a beat down trail around either side of the culvert and go up the hill above it. Do be aware, this stretch is a bit steep, and it was slick when I went during the early morning of a fall day. Once you make it up this steep stretch, the toughest park of the hike is over. You’ll come across a set of railroad tracks. CAREFULLY cross them – these tracks are used daily, so be very alert for oncoming trains. With the waterfall nearby and traffic not far away on US-60, it can be easy lose the ability to differentiate noises.
Once you cross the tracks, you’ll carefully meander farther into the woods. By now, you should be able to see Hidden Falls majestically standing before you.
It’s huge! Though I have not seen any official heights for the falls, I would estimate it to be at around 45 feet tall. There is a small trail on each side of the branch basin to get beneath Hidden Falls. Either side will work, but be aware that there are a lot of wet and moving rocks on either side, so be careful navigating!
Keep in mind that in instances of drought, it is possible that this waterfall would slow down to a trickle or nothing at all – you can use some other nearby waterfalls that are easier to get to – such as Cathedral Falls, to determine this. If you are feeling adventurous, on dry days, there is a little trail that goes behind the waterfall! It is a truly unique perspective to experience. I’ve attached a few additional photos that shows this.
Once you finish, just head back the way you came, or take the other side of the branch basin like I did. When you cross the railroad tracks, be aware that it is very steep back down to the culvert – I slid on my rear end down to play it safe.
In total, this hike is only around a 1/3 of a mile, though the beginning and end are slick. It’s a hike that is challenging but will provide you with a waterfall that not many people have seen!