Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

West Virginia

(304) 866-3858

Map Directions

Things To Do


The Canaan Valley, with an altitude of 3,200 feet, is 14 miles long and 3 miles wide, and the highest valley of its size east of the Rocky Mountains. Climate and habitats are typical of areas much further north, and the plants and animals are unusual for the latitude. Many Valley species are at or near the southernmost edge of their ranges. Drained by the Blackwater River and its tributaries, Canaan Valley contains the largest freshwater wetland area in West Virginia and the central and southern Appalachians.

Map of Canaan Valley NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 39.101025, -79.433041



  • Boating

    Contact the park for more information.

  • Fishing

    Fishing at the refuge requires a State licence. Anglers must access the waterways from designated trails.

  • Hiking

    A trail system has been established on the approximately 16,000 acre Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, opening 41 miles of existing roads and trails for wildlife observation, photography and education. Trails are open from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset, daily. Ten miles will be open exclusively for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter. Thirty one miles are open to year-round pedestrian use (walking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing). Twenty three miles are also open to bicycles. Twenty two miles are also open for horses. Seven miles are open for vehicles, bicycles, horses and pedestrian use. Freeland Road: Nice views of the valley abound on this short boardwalk leading through a wet field to a beaver pond and bubbling spring. Around the pond, visitors may walk to a stand of balsam fir, a plant community typical of Maine and Canada. Trail length is .24 mile each way. Pedestrian only. It does not loop.

    Idleman's Run Trail: This short pedestrian trail travels through woodlands along Idleman's Run. Trail length is .39 mile. Continue up the trail to FR 80, then back to the beginning using the road to make a loop.

    Forest Road 80 and Idleman's Run Road: This public access route is open for pedestrians, bicyclers, horse-back riders, and vehicles. Forest Road 80 provides access from the valley to Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.

    Beall (pronounced "bell") Trails: A parking area on Old Timberline Road, off of Cortland Road, leads to 4.53 miles of trails. Loops go north and south from the parking area. Beall north trails pass through forest, field, shrub swamp and bog habitats, with a spur trail leading to the Blackwater River. Beall south trails offer good opportunities for viewing grassland birds, before dipping into the forest, down to the Blackwater River. Pedestrian only.

    Camp 70 Trails: Trails travel east and north from the parking area. Most are open to bicycles and horses. One loop that provides a beautiful overlook of the valley's wetlands is open for pedestrian travel only. Check the trail map. Trails travel through a mix of forest and field, skirting wetlands. Access is provided to Canaan Valley Institute and Western Pocahontas Land Corporation land. Seek permission from adjacent landowners if you wish to use their property.

    A-frame Road and Adjacent Trails: A-frame Road is a public access route open for pedestrian, horse, bicycle and vehicle use. From Rt. 93 to the parking lot at the end of the gravel road is nine miles. Only part of that is Refuge land, but all of it is open for public access. For most of its length, the road passes through the forested slopes of the valley. In a few locations, there are nice views of the valley. The primary parking area is near beaver ponds along Glade Run. Parking is also permitted on the side of the road. Trail loops west of the road provide an opportunity to experience the valley's wetlands, and the fields and forests of middle ridge. East of the road, trails lead through forest to U.S. Forest Service land, with more valley views. Some trails are open to bicycles and horses, while others are pedestrian only. Check the trail map. As always, seek permission from adjacent landowners if you wish to use their property.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is permitted in accordance with State, Federal and Refuge rules, laws and regulations from September 1 through February 28 and also during the spring turkey season. Except for spring turkey season, the Refuge is closed to hunting from March 1 to August 31.

    The following game species may be taken on Refuge lands during applicable seasons: white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, mourning dove, waterfowl, coot, rail, gallinule, snipe, woodcock, rabbit, hare, squirrel, red fox, grey fox, raccoon, bobcat, woodchuck, coyote, opossum, and striped skunk. All other species of wildlife are protected. Hunters must carry a current, signed Canaan Valley NWR hunt permit, the appropriate State hunting license and a photo ID to hunt on the Refuge.

    Hunt permits will be available weekdays only. No permits will be issued on weekends. To get your permit submit your name, address, phone number and e-mail (if you have one) to the Refuge by phone (304-866-3858), fax (304-866-3852), or e-mail ([email protected]). You may also stop by the office weekdays, 8:00 am--3:00 pm to request a permit. The office is not staffed on Federal holidays. Along with your hunt permit you will receive a copy of the Refuge special regulations and a hunt information form. Please read and follow State, Federal and Refuge rules, laws and regulations. Following your hunt, please complete and return the refuge hunt information form. The data will be used in planning future hunts. Return this information form to get a Refuge permit next year.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Animals you may spot during your trip include white-tailed deer, rabbit, snowshoe hare, rough legged hawks and songbirds.

  • Winter Sports

    There's 31 miles of ungroomed trails maintained by the refuge. Plus 10 miles of groomed trails maintained by the privately owned White Grass Ski Touring Center. White Grass also offers equipment rentals. Download a trail map from the refuge website. Call 304-866-3858 for a refuge trail brochure that combines a trail map with trail descriptions and levels of difficulty.


In the fall through the spring, the visitor center is open Saturday from 10 am until 4 pm, and Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 am - 3:00 pm, volunteer and staff permitting. During this time, the visitor center is usually closed on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

In the summer, the visitor center is open weekdays from 8:30 am - 3:00 pm and weekends from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, volunteer and staff permitting.

Park Partners

Friends of the 500th

The Friends of the nation's 500th National Wildlife Refuge was formed in 1996 to preserve and enhance the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The Friends is a non-profit citizen's group devoted to conserving the unique natural and cultural resources of the Refuge and promoting nature oriented education. The Friends work to promote awareness of the Refuge, enlist volunteers for Refuge and recreation program assistance, and sponsor special events of the Refuge, such as bird and wildflower walks and special studies. The Friends also hopes to help provide public involvement in management decision-making, and provide an understanding and appreciation of ecology and people's role in their environment.

The Friends seek members who appreciate the many opportunities the Refuge and the valley have to offer. They encourage membership of wildlife conservationists, wildflower enthusiasts or those with interests in natural history and the relicts of northern forests and wetlands found here. In addition, they seek birdwatchers, hunters, anglers and compatible winter sports enthusiasts who enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as well as people seeking the peace and tranquility of this secluded natural area in any season.

Contact the Friends at: Friends of the 500th P.O. Box 422 Davis, WV 26260 [email protected]



To Canaan Valley from Washington D.C. Go west on Rt. 66 towards Front Royal. Stay on 66 til it ends at Rt. 81. Go 81 South. You will only stay on Rt. 81 til the second exit (Rt. 55). At the stop sign on the exit ramp, go right onto Rt. 55 toward Wardensville. You will pass through Wardensville, Moorefield, Petersburg, and into the Mouth of Seneca. At the stop sign in Mouth of Seneca, go to the right (this will be Rt. 55 and Rt. 33). Stay on 55/33 until you get into Harman. You will see a sign for the State Parks (Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls), go to the right onto Rt. 32. You will only be about 9 miles away. Stay on Rt. 32 and it will bring you into the heart of Canaan. The refuge headquarters is on Rt. 32 about 2 miles past Canaan Valley Resort State Park.

Phone Numbers


(304) 866-3858