AmandaJeanCraig

From US 19, follow WV 16 south through Fayetteville. Bear left onto Gatewood Road (park signs indicates Kaymoor and Cunard).  Follow Gatewood Road 2.0 miles, and turn left at the Kaymoor sign (Kaymoor No. 1 Road). Follow this road about one mile to the “T” intersection; turn left. Trailhead parking is 0.25 miles on the right.

This is a treacherous trail.  Hell, it's not even a trail.  What you have to do is follow the cliff line for a couple hours.  It's rough and dangerous.  You must have a hiking pole and heavy boots and your wits to do this hike.  It's not for kids or people in an altered state of mind (i.e., leave the booze and pot at home or you may not get home.)  This is a dangerous place.  It is also best hiked during the time of no leaves.  You will have a hard enough time with the rhotodendrun, but adding the other plants and trees at full foliage will make it that much more difficult.  November thru April is probably the best time to do this.

Once you park, go down the Kaymoor Mine Trail.  At one point, early in the hike, you will come to a set of wooden stairs.  At the bottom of the stairs, you will find a waterfall that may not be running much, but some water will be leaking over a shelf some 20-30 feet above.  This is the place where you climb up a short rise and onto the cliff trail.  When I say trail, it's not really a trail like you might be used to.  Basically, you have to hug the base of the cliff line all the way to the main (top) fall on Craig Branch.  First you will come to a place where climbers play early on.  There will be a lot of carabiners and other paraphernalia hanging from the rocks above.  Continue along the base of the cliffs.

You are going to wonder whether you are going the right way most of the time, because, even though it's not that far (as the crow flies), it's a long and laborious hike.  But if you stay along the base of the cliffs, you will eventually get there.  Sometimes you may have to go down the slope a bit to circumnavigate an obstruction (i.e., house size boulders), but don't go any farther down than necessary.  Keep the base of the cliffs in mind at all times and work your way back up to the base.  There are hard parts and easy parts, but mostly it's difficult walking and you will have to do some "butt sliding" to get through a few tight spaces here and there.  Here are a few pics of the wall trail.

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When you finally get to Craig Branch, you will hear the water from around the bend and know you are close.  Now the hard part begins.  You'll have to figure a way down to the creek level.  This is where you have to be very aware of what you are doing.  You are entering the bolder fields and everything you do from here to the bottom of the creek where it meets the jeep trail is treacherous.  There are a ton of loose rocks, and holes in between that you won't see and you can actually fall in to your waist or deeper if you are not careful, because everything is covered with a blanket of decaying vegetation.  You should have a solid heavy hiking pole to test every single foot placement.  Unless you see a large rock evident to step on, you should assume there is nothing there that will hold your weight.  I'm very serious about this.  There are many loose rocks and voids in between that you can't see.  There is also another waterfall below the jeep trail.  You can see it from the trail, but there is no clear trail.  Here again, you will have to navigate rough terrain to see this.

Many places along the way down to the lower falls along Craig Branch will require you butt sliding down through rhododendrun thickets and rock cracks, but there are four nice falls along the creek before you get back down to the jeep trail.  You will thank God for the jeep trail, as it is wide, mostly level, and easy walking.  No more rock hopping, although, when you get to the Kaymoor mine, you will have to start back up to the top.  Up the wooden stairs and follow the trail back to the top.  It's fairly steep but much better than walking in the bolder fields of Craig Branch.

I'm hosting my friend Amanda Fisher's image of one of the falls on Craig Branch at the top of the page so you can see what this creek looks like with water.

Here are the pics I took that day.  The first two are of the main falls at the top of the cliffs.  Unfortunately, there wasn't much water.  It's not easy to tell how big this place is and Amanda told me there was no way you could get as close as we did that day, when the water is running.  You can see two people sitting on the rocks (bottom left of center) in the first shot, for some perspective.craigfall02

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This is the second drop from the top.

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This is the third drop.  There is another one down below, just at the jeep trail, but is was a mess, so we didn't shoot it.  On the other side of the jeep trail, you can see the top of one more waterfall that we did not go to as it was getting dark and we were pretty worn out from the days work.

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This last shot is from another time when my friend Jim and I went down the 863 steps from the Kaymoor Mine Site to the river level, hiked east along where the coke ovens are, and found the bottom of Craig Branch.  This is just before it falls into the New River.

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I would say that the trip along the cliff wall is not really necessary, unless you want to see the main top falls.  It is probably a less dangerous and easier hike to walk mostly level to the creek along the wall than trying to climb up from the jeep trail, however, you can do that if you like.  Or just take the Kaymoor Miner's Trail to the jeep trail, follow to Craig Branch and only climb up to see the three lower falls.