America's Best Trail Towns: Davis and Thomas, WV

West Virginia's coolest trail town is a great place to refuel on pancakes—and a great place to earn them.
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West Virginia's coolest trail town is a great place to refuel on pancakes—and a great place to earn them.
trail towns

Bear Rocks Preserve in the Dolly Sods. Photo by CSP_AppalachianViews/Age Fotostock

Come for the trails, stay for the Southern hospitality. “The funky old ski towns are really social places,” says Brent Carminati, a volunteer hiking leader for the area’s Sierra Club chapter. And though the Monongahela National Forest’s unique upland bogs and scraggy cliffs are no secret to mid-Atlantic backpackers, Davis and Thomas, just 3 miles apart, remain up-and-coming outdoor meccas for now, says Driftland Ski & Sport owner Ian Beckner.

Why You’re Here The Dolly Sods Wilderness is more than the sum of its parts: Here, wide-open meadows, stony outcrops, soggy fens, and mossy boreal forests combine to form a one-of-a-kind ecosystem. And a three-day, 24-mile loop circling the entire wilderness tours it all. From the Bear Rocks Trail on the north side, trace Rocky Ridge to the expansive views at Lions Head, then swing north to Red Creek Canyon. Trailhead Bear Rocks Permit None

On the Town

PERK Head to Thomas and choose between the rotating menu of pancake specials at Flying Pigs. 158 E Ave., Thomas, WV

PUB The Purple Fiddle in Thomas will scratch pretty much every post-trip itch you have: cheesy sandwiches, 50-plus microbrews, ice cream cones, and a never-ending roster of top-notch bluegrass and folk acts—and a cheap hostel bed to crash in if you have too good a time. 96 E Ave., Thomas, WV

SEE Hike a .3-mile boardwalk and watch a five-story waterfall spill into a tight gorge at Blackwater Falls State Park, a scant 3-mile drive from downtown Davis. 1584 Blackwater Lodge Rd., Davis, WV