fbpx

Hiking

West Virginia Mountains

Top 5 West Virginia Mountains

By on July 18, 2017

West Virginia mountains are majestic. They have beautiful scenery and attractions that will let you relax and take a step back from your busy, daily life. Here are the top five West Virginia mountains:
 
West Virginia Mountains1) Spruce Mountain:   Spruce Mountain is the highest of the West Virginia mountains. It is located in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area in the Monongahela National Forest. This is in Pendleton County. There are over 75 miles of hiking trails and a small lake on the west side that is stocked with trout for fishing. On the mountain resides two campgrounds for campers, the larger of the two close to the lake. On the top of Spruce Mountain is a lookout tower that will let you see everything around you for miles.
 
2) Back Allegheny Mountain: This mountain is 18 miles long and 8 miles wide. It is located in Pocahontas County and rises up from Greenbrier River Valley. Its highest elevation is at 4,843 feet. Bald Knob, the pinnacle of the mountain, is the final destination for Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, a railroad that takes passengers up the mountain.
 
The Cass Scenic Railroad is 11 miles long and goes through the former company town of Cass and up Back Allegheny Mountain. Passengers Cass Railroadride on retrofitted log cars in a former logging train up the mountain. Cabooses can be rented out for private parties. Houses along the Cass Scenic Railroad and a cabin on Bald Knob can also be rented out. The railroad tour allows visitors to take in the amazing scenery of Back Allegheny’s red spruce forests without compromising the sensitive and highly protected environment.
 
Bald Knob’s observation platform gives visitors a gorgeous view of Greenbrier Valley. Sometimes, when the weather is clear, you can even see all the way to Virginia, which is twelve miles away.
 
3) Cheat Mountain: This rugged ridge is 50 miles long and five miles wide. Of the West Virginia mountains, it has the highest point at 4,848 feet above sea level. It runs the entire length of Randolph County. Cheat Mountain has a strong history in the American Civil War. It is the location where General Lee carried out his first offensive battle. As a valuable strategic location, the mountain was both occupied by Confederate and Union camps during the war and several battles and skirmishes were fought.
 
Cheat Mountain is also home of the threatened Cheat Mountain salamander, a salamander only found on Cheat Mountain and a couple of other nearby mountains. It is a small salamander with black or dark brown color that is flecked with silver.
 
USA Cycling Snowshoe WVA popular tourist attraction on Cheat Mountain is Snowshoe Ski Resort located in the village of Snowshoe West Virginia. It has over 200 acres of skiable land. Snowshoe West Virginia is best known for skiing and other winter activities, but it also has mountain bike trails, a golf course, and wedding/ceremony facilities. Every year, Snowshoe West Virginia also hosts the Grand National Cross Country Racing Event. There are over 1,400 condominiums and lodge hotels on the resort, perfect for those wanting to get some skiing or mountain biking time in.
 
4) North Fork Mountain: This majestic West Virginia Mountains highest point is 4,588 feet. It is capped in quartzite and unlike a lot of the neighboring mountains, it is a dry mountain with mixed oaks, pine trees, and mountain laurel instead of red spruce forest.
 
The only settlement on North Fork Mountain is Monkeytown, a small hamlet with less than fifty people. However, there are vacation rental homes and small cabins spread out across the entire mountain, as well as Future Generations Graduate School located just under the ridgelineThe North Fork Mountain Trail is a hiking trail over 23 miles long and follows the West Virginia Mountainsmountain’s northern crest. Outside magazine named this trail the best trail in West Virginia.
 
North Fork Mountain is the former home of the defunct community “Smoke Hole“, located on the east side of the mountain, which has a rich and exciting history. Moonshiner and local troublemaker Cal Nelson lived in Smoke Hole. His story is immortalized in A Place Called Smoke Hole by Bardon Shreve.
 
Smoke HoleSmoke Hole became defunct in the early 20th century. In 1930, unusually dry weather started a major forest fire that raged across the entire mountain, vanquishing small trees and undergrowth. It lasted eleven days, only stopped by rainfall. After that, the Forest Service put a fire suppression program in place, including fire wardens, a fire tower, and fire-fighting teams made from locals. Unfortunately, with the undergrowth and small trees gone, the livestock of the Smoke Holers did not have enough to feed on. Smoke Holers blamed Forest service and a few locals intentionally started a forest fire out of spite. It took them five days to put out and it consumed 10 square miles of the mountain. Smoke Hole is gone now, but the ruins of the watchman’s cabin and tower can still be seen today.
 
5) Shavers Mountain: This rugged ridge is 35 miles long. Several peaks exceed 4,000 feet above sea level. There are two beautiful natural areas on its northern and southern ends respectively: Otter Creek Wilderness and Gaudineer Scenic Area.
 
West Virginia MountainsOtter Creek Wilderness is a bowl-shaped valley that has over 42 miles of hiking trails. Its longest, Otter Creek Trail, is 11 miles long. It is the home of the Shavers Mountain Spruce-Hemlock Stand, which is 68 acres of virgin forest. The Gaudineer Scenic Area is a national natural landmark. It is 140 acres big and has a small portion of virgin forest that was spared and preserved by the timber industry in the early 20th centuryThe mountain is named for Peter Shaver, whose grandfather, Ellis Wyatt was the first settler on the mountain. Shaver was killed by Native Americans on the mountain in the nineteenth century. The Shavers Mountain trail is only 10 miles long, but it is often intense and difficult. However, it is also very rewarding, with majestic views.
 
These five West Virginia mountains offer excellent hiking trails, gorgeous views and several other attractions outdoorsmen of all kinds will love.
Cranberry Glades

Cranberry Glades – An Ecological Gem Nestled in Pocahontas County WV

By on May 8, 2017

Cranberry GladesCranberry Glades Botanical Area is nestled between the Cranberry, Kennison, and Black Mountains of the Monongahela National Forest, in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Just a beautiful four hour drive from Washington, D.C., on the Highland Scenic Highway, this amazing ecologically abundant land was established as a National Natural Landmark in 1974. These glades are nestled high in the mountains at the altitude of 3,400 feet, which lend to the unusual eco-system of The Glades.

The Glades, located near Snowshoe WV, claim a collection of five boreal-type bogs. Thanks to the frigid winters and warm summers of the region, and the collection of coniferous trees in the area lent to the development of the healthy bog environs. The bogs found here resemble many of the Canadian Bogs found much further north in considerably colder climes. Right here in the Monongahela area, the bog’s high acidic nature support vegetation usually found at the higher latitudes. The area with its remarkable vegetation has brought many to The Glades for scientific study since the 1930s.

Walking the Boardwalks of Cranberry Glades

Cranberry GladesWooden boardwalks in the botanical area, along with well-groomed hiking paths of The Glades supports a pleasurable hiking experience for veteran hikers and families alike. The southern sites along the way may offer a hiker a chance to view several unusual critters eating the wild skunk cabbage and other vegetation. Despite the area’s northern climate, a hiker can spot some incredible species. Many animals that inhabit this region include the American Black Bear, West Virginian Flying Squirrel, white-tailed deer, coyote, Red fox, and in the evenings the more nocturnal beavers can be heard working away. For birders, the American Bald Eagle, Eastern Screech Owl, Swainon’s, Hermit thrushes, Nashville, Mourning Warblers, Purple Finches, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper Hawk have been known to be sighted. Visitors are asked to stay on the paths and boardwalks to help maintain the highly sensitive ecological environs.

Unusual Flora of the Glades

The list of flora is long thanks to the richness of the soils and climate of the bog plains. Along with the typical mountain conifers, mosses are abundant in the area. They include the sphagnum moss, bird-wheat moss, bog moss, and reindeer lichen. Cranberry vines bloom high above the moss in summer brining fruit in the fall. Over the centuries, two species of plants found in the region are carnivorous. Due to the lack of nourishment from the ground, these plants evolved to survive from food on the surface. Hikers can marvel at the Purple Pitcher plant and the sundew, the carnivorous plants that have survived in the bogs over the ages. The sights, sounds and splendor of natural beauty of The Cranberry Glades are just waiting to attract families, naturalists and students of ecology to the remarkable region in Pocahontas County of West Virginia.

Greenbrier-River-Trail-bikers-lrg

West Virginia’s Greenbrier River Trail

By on April 23, 2017

As if West Virginia wasn’t one of the tourist jewels of the U.S. already, one of the most popular sites in the state is the Greenbrier River Trail. The creativity of West Virginia’s State Park system took a former railroad site within the Greenbrier County and created a lush recreational venue 77 miles long. The appeal of Greenbrier River Trail is the location that evokes memories of West Virginia’s history.

Greenbrier River TrailWelcome To The Greenbrier Trail

The attraction of the Greenbrier River that wends its way through this region provides a calming effect and a kind of “back to nature” aura tourists love. The former rail that once ran through this area is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to spend a week or two communing with nature or enjoying all that the Greenbrier River Trail has to offer. For example, the Greenbrier River Trail is a hiker’s dream. With a nearly 80-mile long hiking trail, hikers have a chance to breathe fresh, clean West Virginia air and enjoy glorious scenery. Start your hike in Marlinton, an old train depot and hike southward through a well forested area.

If hiking isn’t a your reason to visit Greenbrier River Trail, there is the lure of numerous activities like swimming, bicycling, backpacking, and horseback riding.

With the Greenbrier River in close proximity, there’s an opportunity to explore river activities like paddle boating in the warm West Virginia sunshine.

If you are an avid photographer, Greenbrier River Trail will not disappoint. Between the rolling landscape, the natural flora and fauna, the true essence of West Virginia is ready and waiting to be captured.

The Greenbrier River Trail is an ethereal idyll in winter that is simply breathtaking. People also come from miles away to enjoy cross-country skiing and the ample snowfall. Nearby Snowshoe WV provides for a winter wonderland of downhill skiing and snow-tubing.

Greenbrier River Trail
Click To Enlarge

Greenbrier River Trail – An Escape from the Hustle and Bustle

Busy lives create greater levels of stress. It’s easy to understand why seeking tranquil places for vacation is a priority. Greenbrier River Trail prides itself on catering to the needs of individuals and families seeking an escape from all of the hustle and bustle. Greenbrier River Trail provides the kind of solitude that many seek. This is balanced by a round of outdoor activities.

Cabins and campsites open in Greenbrier State Forest from mid-April until closing in October. Cabins are limited so reserve early. Also visit Mountaintop Condos for nearby condo rentals.

Beartown State Park

Why You’ll Want to Visit Beartown State Park

By on April 10, 2017

Beartown State ParkBeartown State Park, located near Snowshoe WV, contains 107 acres of natural area on Droop Mountain’s eastern summit. The main objective of the park is to preserve nature and not to over-develop the region. A boardwalk provides visitors easy access to the area. Visitors are able to walk along the boardwalk to view the various rock formations throughout the park. Basic facilities are available for the visitors’ convenience. Signs included on the boardwalk guide people through the area’s points of interest.




This park is open each day from April through October. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing and swimming in Benedict Pond during the warm months. In addition, they can traverse the trails to see the various wildlife species in the park that include such animals as bobcats, deer and black bears. There also is a wide assortment of wildflowers, shrubs and other plants to behold.




This park closes for the winter season. However, you can still walk on the boardwalk throughout the cold, winter months. In addition, visitors can traverse through the wilderness areas using snowshoes, skis and other snow gear. Regardless of the season, the park is free to enter.

Why the Name Beartown?

The local residents named this park Beartown because of the many openings in the rock formations, which bears may use as winter dens for hibernation. In addition to these cave-like openings, there are narrow, deep crevasses that create a crisscross pattern similar to streets in a city.




Park is Famous for Unique Rock Formations

Beartown State ParkBeartown State Park is famous for its unique rock formations made up of droop sandstone. This stone came about during the Pennsylvanian Age. Overhanging cliffs, deep crevasses and massive boulders await visitors of this park. Vegetation amazingly grows in the cracks of these rock formations. Snow and ice remain into late summer some years in the deeper crevasses.




This park is full of natural beauty and nature lovers everywhere should take advantage of the chance to explore this interesting park. People make return visits to this park and find something new each time they visit. It is one of our favorite places to enjoy nature. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes with traction as some places become slippery when wet. Come see it for yourself today!

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.