Bear Rocks Preserve

Petersburg, WV

Time stands still high above Canaan Valley, in Dolly Sods, where a flat, windswept expanse of subalpine heath barrens opens up to the sky.
Stunted red spruce, ancient bogs and forlorn boulders define this haunting landscape, where creatures typically found in more northern environs roam oblivious to their geologic isolation.

The Nature Conservancy’s 477-acre Bear Rocks Preserve is a cornerstone of this wonderfully diverse and complex ecosystem, which lies on a ridge crest that forms part of the Eastern Continental Divide. Whipping, whistling wind greets visitors to Bear Rock’s barren expanse, where the undulating mountains of the east fold out across the skyline. Dotting this view are large birds of prey that ride warm air currents rising from the valley below, while colorful warblers, vireos, thrushes and other songbirds hug low to the ground, where a profusion of plant life provides protection and food.

Lightly treaded trails entwine throughout the preserve’s unique plant communities, leading hikers through a variety of shrubs like blueberry, huckleberry, mountain laurel, azalea and rhododendron. In some areas, soggy, decay-logged soil supports unique high-elevation cranberry bogs, which flourish each autumn. Throughout, red spruce trees poke from patches of soil, and are at once both nurtured and hampered by the icy cool climate.

Secreted away amidst these plant communities is an assortment of unique creatures that cling heartily to the unforgiving landscape. Here, lucky travelers might catch a glimpse of the Cheat Mountain salamander, on the federal threatened and endangered species list. Harder still to spot is the snowshoe hare or saw-whet owl, animals that typically are found further north.

Trip Inspiration

5 Reasons To Visit Grandview This Fall

While the nation’s newest national park is full of eye-catching views, the Grandview area is at the top of our list. With its own visito...

Read More

Fall Foliage Road Trip: Midland Trail & Country Route 11

Iconic Views & Breathtaking Overlooks This week in Almost Heaven, we are beginning to see vibrant color spread across the state....

Read More

Road Trips from Columbus – Mid-Ohio Valley

The Mid-Ohio Valley Region, known for its tourism, agriculture and manufacturing industries, is a charming place full of adventure and ric...

Read More

Road Trips from Virginia: New River/Greenbrier Valley

The New River/Greenbrier Valley Region is a beautiful, scenic area where upscale luxury meets small-town charm. With ample rock-climbing, ...

Read More

Road Trips on I-77: Mountain Lakes

The Mountain Lakes Region of West Virginia, while being the portion of the state with the smallest population, is in no shortage of beauti...

Read More

Road Trips from Pittsburg: Mountaineer Country

The Mountaineer Country Region of West Virginia is a lively and beautiful area filled with scenic attractions, fine dining, ample shopping ...

Read More

Road Trips from Washington D.C.: Eastern Panhandle

The Eastern Panhandle Region is home to approximately 6% of the state’s population. One of two panhandles in the state of West Virginia, ...

Read More

Road Trips from Pittsburg: Northern Panhandle

The Northern Panhandle Region encompasses one of two panhandles in the state (fun fact: West Virginia is the only state out of the entire 5...

Read More

Road Trips from Kentucky – Hatfield-McCoy Mountains

The Hatfield-McCoy Mountains Region is a place with extensive history and ample outdoor recreation. This region was named after the infamo...

Read More
More Inspiration