Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park is located on Droop Mountain in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Droop Mountain was the site of the last major battle of the American Civil War in West Virginia.
History of Droop Mountain Battlefield
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park was dedicated as West Virginia’s first state park in 1928. Today, Droop Mountain Battlefield is a part of the Civil War Discovery Trail. The Civil War Discovery Trail links over 300 sites in 16 states to inspire and teach the history of the Civil War and the devastating impact it had on America. The Trail, an iniative of the Civil War Trust, allows visitors to explore battlefields, historic homes, railroad stations, cemeteries, parks and other destinations that bring history to life.
Civil War Battle at Droop Mountain
On November 6, 1863, the federal army of Brigadier General William W. Averell attempted for the second time to disrupt the Virginia-Tennessee Railroad at Salem, Virginia. Averell and his troops faced the Confederate troops of Brigadier General John Echols. Throughout the morning, Echols’ smaller confederate army held the high ground and blocked the highway with artillery, but was later overwhelmed by the crushing advance of federal infantry on his left flank. Following the collapse of his lines, General Echols retreated south into Virginia with the remnants of his command.
Federal Troops occupied Lewisburg on November 7, 1863, but being burdened with prisoners and captured livestock, General Averell elected to return to his headquarters in Beverly, West Virginia, waiting until early December to lead a third and ultimately successful attack on the vital railroad. Operations in the Shenandoah Valley in the spring of 1864 drew remaining confederate troops out of West Virginia, thus leaving the new state securely under the control of the federal government for the remainder of the war.
Hiking Trails at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park offers 8 different hiking trails. The trails vary in difficulty from easy to difficult. The longest trail is 3/4 of a mile. See below for more details about the various trails.
Big Spring Trail
Big Spring Trail is a 3/4 mile trail and has a difficult rating. This trail begins at the west overlook and dead-ends at a mountain spring. Beware that the climb back is strenuous.
Horse Heaven Trail
Horse Heaven Trail is a 1/4 mile trail with a moderate difficulty rating. This trail starts at the pump house near the cannon and ends at thesouth picnic area. The trail follows a series of small cliffs and gives access to Horse Heaven Rock, where horses killed in the battle of Droop Mountain were disposed.
Musket Trail is a 1/2 mile trail with a moderate difficulty rating. This trail starts near the park office and follows a steep hillside. Stumps of American Chestnut trees that were alive during the time of the battle of Droop Mountain line the trail. The trail ends at the lookout tower.
Overlook Trail is a 1/2 mile trial with a moderate difficulty rating. The trail begins at the pump house near the cannon and ends at the park office. The trail follows a series of rock cliffs. Following the cliffs, visitors can observe several small caves, an old bear den, a scenic overlook, and Civil War battle trenches.
Cranberry Bogs Trail
Cranberry Bogs Trail is a 1/2 mile trail with an easy difficulty rating. Hikers can start at the park office and finish at the south picnic area. This is the most popular trail in the park, winding through a mountain bog full of interesting plants, tall pines, and various wildlife can be observed. The trail is also suitable for cross-country skiing during the winter
Minnie Ball Trail
The Minnie Ball Trail is a 1/2 mile trail with a difficult difficulty rating. This trail is by far the most rigorous park trail, located in a ravine in which Union soliders climbed the mountain to attach the Confederate troops awaiting above. The trail begins at the first sharp curve in the road near the office and ends at the tower.
Old Soldier Trail
The Old Soldier Trail is a 3/4 mile trail with an easy difficulty rating. This easy trail follows an old road grade, passing near the spot where Robert Agustus Bailey was shot while rallying his men around the Confederate Flat. The trail begins near the battlefield monuments and eds at the stone shed near the tower. This is a popular cross-country ski trail in the winter.
The Tower Trail is a 1/2 mile trail with a moderate difficulty rating. This trail begins at the park office and ends at the stone shed near the lookout tower. This trail provides the shortest route from the park office to the lookout tower.