The Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia is a national treasure which everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Located on the eastern border of the Allegheny Mountain Range (near Snowshoe WV), it is 1,439 square miles of natural paradise. The Monongahela National Forest has over 800 miles of gorgeous trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. It includes nearly 600 miles of trout streams, picnic areas, 2 observation towers, 2 visitor centers, plenty of places for tent camping and charming, rustic cabins. With abundant wildlife, rugged mountain vistas, shady forest streams and hundreds of miles of natural beauty, it’s well worth a visit.
If you like hiking, the Monongahela National Forest has trails for all levels of experience and ability for you to enjoy. One good hiking area is the Blackwater Canyon. Located in the Blackwater Falls State park and part of the larger National Forest, it has many great trails for hiking, backpacking, cross country skiing and has a bike path across the center of the canyon as well.
Another great site is North Fork Mountain. It has an approximately 22 mile trail along the ridge of the mountain with breathtaking views of the German Valley and mountain ridges beyond. There is also the famous Dolly Sods Wilderness, which can be seen from the North Fork Mountain, and is another wonderful place to explore. It has a few trails for hikers to use, but its lush, scenic beauty is great of off trail backpacking.
The Monongahela National Forest has a variety of camping options for visitors, too. There are places for RV camping, campground camping, dispersed and group camping, but best of all there are cabin rentals available. The Middle Mountain Cabins are charming, rustic wood cabins on an open grassy area near a small pond. It’s an idyllic way to spend a week out in the wild. Be sure to make reservations early for any camping plans you may have, as the campgrounds fill up fast.
While you enjoy the rough beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, with all its forests, rivers, and wildlife, remember to tread lightly and pack out what you bring in. As they say, “Take only pictures and leave only memories.” The Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia is a treasure that belongs to us all, so it’s up to us to maintain its pristine splendor.