Looking for hiking trails in Beckley, West Virginia? Check out the Gray Flats South Trail in the Piney Creek Watershed for gorgeous mountain views!
By Elizabeth + Garrett Johnson
My husband and I are both from deep in the mountains of West Virginia.
Living in Beckley, though still in West Virginia, isn’t the same. We both get a little homesick for the feeling of being “in” the mountains.
There isn’t an easy way to describe the feeling for those who don’t know it or say the mountains make them feel trapped.
For us, being surrounded by old majestic hills makes us feel safe, calm, and like we are where we belong.
Needless to say, when we found a small trail system that was less than a 10-minute drive from our house we were thrilled!
There are places on these trails where all urban noise is gone and you feel as if you are completely immersed in natural surroundings.
Piney Creek Watershed Trails
The YMCA of Beckley has a soccer complex with a nice track around it, but we LOVE the series of trails that surround the complex. They are part of the Piney Creek Watershed.
We love all the trails, but there are a few we frequent.
Gray Flats South Trail
The Gray Flats South trail is one we do a few times a week.
I like it because I am able to quickly get the distance I’m hoping for without too much elevation change. Yes, I am lazy!
My goal is three miles, and most days that’s what we finish.
There are a few options to start the trail and lots of options for where to go once you are on it.
We like to let the dogs run free-range as much as possible, so we take the less traveled route.
Dogs are supposed to be on a leash. We use training collars and do leash them when we pass people.
Parking for the YMCA Trails
Drive to the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex at 243 Wilkes Rd, Beckley, WV 25801.
There are a few parking lots, but at certain times of the year (and currently for crowd control) some may be gated off.
Have no fear, people!
Just park in front of the gate or along the road! There are plenty of options to ensure you can still have a great hike and stay safe.
We park at the end of the road across from the gate, a spot that usually isn’t very crowded and is close to where we like to start our run.
It’s easy to find; the road turns into a trail.
Hiking the Gray Flats Trail
We take the Gray Flats South Route. It’s marked as 1.6 miles, and comparing my watch (FitBit Versa 2) and phone tracking, the mileage seems to be pretty accurate.
There are lots of trails that you can explore from this one.
We do take a left onto Rock Ridge Trail for a little bit to avoid a hill at the end of Gray Flats South and still get the mileage (I said I was lazy).
I love this part of the trail.
There are four small wooden bridges you get to cross. Once we reach the fourth, we turn around and head back the way we came.
Once you’ve completed the trail and made it back to your car, the total distance is just over three miles. It’s perfect if you want a warm-up or cool-down that isn’t included in the run.
The terrain is pretty flat and easy to run, jog, cycle, or walk.
There is a slight bit of elevation, going down to start and going up on the way out.
The rocks do get a bit bigger at the beginning but that only lasts for a few feet. All in all, it’s a nice easy trail to enjoy.
My favorite thing about doing the same trail so often, other than relaxing and enjoying the run without wondering what’s coming next, is seeing the forest change so much with each season.
Really, each month brings something new and wonderful to experience as we are out there.
If you live near here or are just passing through and want to stretch your legs quickly, this is a great place to do it!
About Elizabeth + Garrett Johnson
Hi! We are Garrett & Elizabeth from Beckley, WV. To pay the bills we are a firefighter and a nurse. We are also full-time volunteers. We also love backpacking, trail running, camping and hiking. We have 2 dogs who almost always drag us along on the trails. Follow Elizabeth at @smutko.girl.