On a cold January morning with a layer of fresh powder on the ground we decided to hit the Canaan Loop in Davis, WV.
For the past 7 years my friends and I have been making an annual “pilgrimage” to Canaan Valley, WV for a few days of R&R which mostly includes snowboarding and lots of drinking. While we’ve spent countless hours hiking the back country, we’d never given much thought to local fire roads and trails. After doing some quick research we found the Canaan Loop road which is located right outside of Davis, WV at Blackwater Falls State Park.
The Canaan Loop is a 23.1 mile fire road that for the most part is pretty tame and easily accomplished by any stock 4×4. One thing to keep in mind though is the weather conditions, add snow and ice and things can get tricky out there real quick.
Heading out for the trail:
By looking at this photo you wouldn’t believe it, but this was taken at noon right when we started heading towards the trail head. It stayed pretty dark and ominous for most of the day but we were lucky enough to get a little sunshine.
Airing down for the road ahead:
We found the trail head pretty easily and decided to air down because it had been snowing constantly throughout the week we were there. We were also breaking fresh trail and wanted to make sure we had maximum traction.
A few miles in we found a fork in the trail with a water crossing that we just couldn’t pass up. After checking the depth (it was only about 6 inches) we forded though only to be greeted with a closed gate right over the bank. Regardless we got our water crossing fix in for the trail ride so we were happy to have done it.
“It’s a Jeep Thing”:
As you can see it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Our friend Nate wanted to show us
how to be a dumb ass the superior off road capabilities of his Jeep Cherokee so he decided to drive into a ditch on the side of the road. I’m pretty confident that he quickly realized that he bit off more than he could chew because the ditch was substantially deeper than he anticipated. After making a futile valiant attempt to get unstuck he finally gave up and we were happy to pull him out. After his little show we finally understood the meaning of “it’s a Jeep thing.”
These rhododendron shrubs were the bane of our existence while running this trail. We could deal with the hidden mud pits and icy trails, but having to listen to your paint be scrapped off while going down the trail is pretty tortuous. It’s about as much fun as sliding down a snowy hill in your underwear, so if you like your paint this trail is not the one for you.
It started to get dark on us, but we were able to finish the trail before we lost the last slivers of daylight. The total time for us to fund the entire loop was a little over 4 hours, but this included stopping for photos and checking out icy sections of trail. I’m sure you could easily run this entire loop in 2-3 hours in good conditions.
Overall it was a fun trip and I can’t wait to get back and try out some of the awesome campsites. If you do decide to do it during the winter though make sure to be prepared for the slick conditions, and you’ll probably want a partner in another rig cause it’s a long way out on foot.