The Monongahela National Forest, a Rugged Beauty

By on November 7, 2013

Monongahela-National-ForestThe Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia is a national treasure everyone should experience at least once in their lifetimes, particularly if you are visiting nearby Snowshoe WV. Located on the eastern border of the state of West Virginia in the Allegheny Mountain Range, it is 1,439 square miles of natural paradise. The Monongahela National Forest has over 800 miles gorgeous trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking, nearly 600 miles of trout streams, picnic areas, 2 observation towers, 2 visitor centers, plenty of places for tent camping and charming, rustic cabins for visitors as well. 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 is the 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.
Monongahela-National-ForestThe 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.
Falls of Hills Creek

The Majestic Falls of Hills Creek

By on November 7, 2013

Falls of Hills CreekThe Falls of Hills Creek, located east of the city of Richwood, West Virginia, are some of the most serenely majestic waterfalls in the United States. Sitting inside the perimeter of the Monongahela National Forest they have been a favored destination for thousands of tourists each year.

Hills Creek has been proclaimed the cleanest freshwater stream in West Virginia by the Department of Natural Resources. Isolated and far away from developed land makes this a natural wonder right in the heart of the state.

The falls are easily accessible whether walking, biking or jogging. There is also ample handicap access on the 1700 foot walkway heading up to the falls. Nature lovers will be in awe of the spectacular display of wildflowers as there are more than 40 varieties lining the pathway to the falls. Not to mention the beautiful rhododendrons and laurel bushes that bloom early each spring and last well into the early days of fall.

Falls of Hills CreekThe first waterfall has a drop from the top of twenty-five feet of pristine water cascading down the side of the mountainous area. Once visitors pass the first waterfall, they take a few turns up the side of the mountain to reach the second set of falls. The second set of falls rises more than 45 feet in the air and has a much wider scope of water rushing from the top to a small pool at the bottom. People often enjoy the day swimming in the calm waters beneath the falls, but be prepared as the fresh water is very cold even in the middle of the hot summer.

Once the second set of falls has been discovered there is a semi-rugged half mile walk to the third set. Cascading nearly 65 feet from the top, the third set of falls at Hills Creek are a spectacular site to relax by after a long day of hiking. Hikers will want to take care as they find their way to the third set of falls as the path is quite rocky and hiking is best done at a slow pace.

Once you spend some time enjoying the falls of Hills Creek, there is also a splendid view from an overlook where you can take in the beauty of all three falls all at once. From the top of the third fall to the bottom of the first fall is a drop of nearly 220 feet of beautiful natural scenery to enjoy. The tree line heading to the falls is very thick and cats out most of the natural light. The best time to fully enjoy the falls in all of their splendor is from noon to three in the afternoon when the sun is at its brightest.