Scenic Drives through Almost Heaven
Sightsee from the comfort of your car with these six scenic drives through the mountains of West Virginia.
Historic National Road (15.7 miles)
Travel back in time without ever stepping foot out of your vehicle. The Historic National Road, also known as the Cumberland Road, was the nation’s first federally funded interstate highway. The 620-mile (1000-km) road opened the nation to the west and became a corridor for the movement of goods and people. The road spans East to West, from Cumberland, Maryland all the way to Vandalia, Illinois and includes a section in Wheeling, West Virginia.
One of the key highlights on this historic thoroughfare is the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. This iconic structure links the main channel of the Ohio River and was once the largest suspension bridge in the world from 1849 until 1851.
Highland Scenic Byway (43 miles)
Navigate through a wild and timbered portion of the Monongahela National Forest on the Highland Scenic Byway. Hardwood forests cover rolling, mountainous terrain capped by dark spruce at high elevations. Traverse a narrow and steep-walled valley with views of clear mountain streams. This designated National Scenic Byway extends 43 miles from Richwood to US Route 219, north of Marlinton, WV.
Sights include Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, Summit Lake, and Falls of Hills Creek. The USDA Forest Service have created an audio tour to guide you through these iconic landscapes. The takes you through the history, culture, and science behind many of places on this stretch of road that traverses the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Highlands and Plateau.
Little Kanawha Parkway (77 miles)
Skip the highway and take the scenic route. Running parallel to the Little Kanawha River along State Route 5, this scenic drive traverses from Mineral Wells to Flatwoods. The Little Kanawha Parkway takes travelers through rustic farmlands and quaint rural towns.
Travelers may find access to fishing, hunting and hiking, as well as enjoy scenic views of the river, forests and farmlands. The winding roads and beautiful views of the river are the perfect reason to take your time on this drive. Allow 2-3 hours to navigate this byway.
Coal Heritage Trail (98 miles)
Wind through mountains and valleys of Southern West Virginia showcasing America’s robust industrial heritage. The Coal Heritage Trail travels through more than 13 counties and showcases the land where thousands of hard-working miners labored to produce the coal which powered modern America. The Trail is part of the National Coal Heritage Area and begins on Route 52 in Bluefield to Welch, then follows Route 16 towards Ansted.
The region commemorates the history and culture of the coal industry and the impact it has had on the physical and social environment. Numerous resources can be seen along the corridor, including coal company towns, tipples, railroad structures, and reclaimed mining lands.
Washington Heritage Trail (136 miles)
Follow the footsteps of George Washington on the Washington Heritage Trail, and discover the natural and cultural history along 136 miles of the scenic Eastern Panhandle. See 18th century towns, 19th century industrial sites, Washington family homes, springs, rivers and scenic mountain ranges on the drive.
Navigate through three counties, five picturesque towns and highlights 40 historic and scenic sites. Be sure to plan out a few self-guided tours along the way. The Morgan County Driving Tour is an 80-mile segment of the trail that is centered around Berkeley Springs and continues on to the town of Paw Paw.
Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike (180 miles)
The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike is a designated National Scenic Byway. It spans from the upper Shenandoah Valley in Staunton, Virginia to the Ohio River Valley in Parkersburg, West Virginia. This historical turnpike served as the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. Prized by both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, the turnpike was essential for control of western Virginia.
Crucial in the First Campaign of the Civil War, this road now features pristine Civil War sites to explore. Charming towns, rich with history, offer opportunities to experience the turnpike as it was 150 years ago. Hike through the vast forests of Pocahontas and Randolph Counties or fish in the secluded waters found near the Allegheny Mountains. Enjoy the lush wooded forests, small farms and beautiful mountain vistas and go back to an earlier time.
Which scenic drive will you take?
This post was last updated on April 15, 2020