HikingIf you’re looking to disconnect and reconnect with nature, West Virginia is the place for you. Filled with rolling mountains and low river valleys, West Virginia’s landscape is carved with family-friendly hikes, backcountry trails, and everything in between. What do all trails in West Virginia have in common? Scenic vista views that will leave you breathless. Find the path to where you belong, right here in Almost Heaven.
Explore the West Virginia Waterfall Trail
Chasing waterfalls takes on a whole new meaning this summer in West Virginia with the first-ever statewide Waterfall Trail. Download your virtual passport to start your waterfall hunt and earn exclusive prizes today.Get Your Virtual Passport
Begin your hiking adventure by checking in at Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. The 2.6-mile out-and-back trail leads to the top of Seneca Rocks and is actually easier than you’d think. While it may be a bit of a climb, this well-maintained trail has switchbacks to reduce its steepness, and there are benches along the way where hikers can rest. The 900-foot rock formation (a popular climbing destination) oversees the North Fork River and surrounding valley. And while you’re in the area, take the time to drive to the top of Spruce Knob, the highest point in the state. An observation tower just beyond the parking area offers breathtaking views atop the 4,863-foot Spruce Mountain.
Rise early and head to Blackwater Falls State Park for an 8-mile hike that connects you to neighboring Canaan Valley Resort State Park. Along the hike, you’ll wind your way through groves of red spruce, eastern hemlock and dense rhododendron thickets. Wear sturdy shoes because the trail is rocky and wet in some places. The trail takes an average of four hours to walk, but the time spent in West Virginia backcountry is well worth the trek.
Start your final day by exploring Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, home to a unique ecosystem and the largest area of bogs, or acidic wetlands, in West Virginia. These sphagnum bogs are similar to what you’d see in the Arctic tundra. An accessible boardwalk guides visitor through a landscape of red spruce, yellow birch, hemlocks and more than 60 unique plant species, including wild orchids and carnivorous plants. You might spot signs of wild animals, including black bear, northern flying squirrel, American bald eagle, red fox and white-tailed deer. Take a break from your day of hiking to learn more about this unique ecosystem at Cranberry Mountain Nature Center.
Hiking in Almost Heaven
Dolly Sods Wilderness
Dolly Sods Wilderness encompasses over 17,000 acres of land within the Monongahela National Forest. This makes it a prime location for the extended hiking trip. Elevations range from 2,500 to over 4,700 feet above sea level making it a great place for vistas. Encounter one of West Virginia’s famous landmarks; Lion’s Head Rock.
Coopers Rock State Forest
If you are looking for 360-degree views, then Coopers Rock State Forest is for you. Located about 13 miles from Morgantown, the park features canyon overlooks, historical sites, and over 50 miles of trails. Use any of the 21 trails to explore the 12,747 acres that make up the state forest. The main overlook showcases the gorgeous views of the Cheat River.
The Allegheny Trail is a 330-mile trail that runs through the eastern part of West Virginia from Bruceton Mills to Peters Mountain, where it meets the Appalachian Trail. This trail has something for everyone, from short day hikes to extended trips. The trail passes through or near 3 state parks, 4 state forests, 2 national wilderness areas, and the Monongahela, George Washington, and Jefferson National Forests.
Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area
Sitting at 4,863 feet above sea level, Spruce Knob is the highest peak in the Allegheny Mountains and West Virginia. The 16.5-mile trek to the summit has been called one of the top 5 backpacking routes in the mid-Atlantic. If you are up for more hiking enjoy other trails in the area like the Seneca Creek Trail, Huckleberry Trail, or the Lumberjack Trail.
How to Start Hiking
Many people start their outdoor experience with hiking. West Virginia is a perfect place to begin your hiking journey. The Mountain State has everything from short to long, out and backs, point to points, or loop trails. Find the right path to begin your journey right here in Almost Heaven.
What to Bring
Your gear list is always going to vary on the weather, time of year, and Almost Heaven destination. If you are traveling with friends or a local guide, it is always best to consult them on specific gear needs. However, if you’re just looking for the basics, here’s a helpful list that outlines the gear almost every adventurer needs.
- Comfortable clothes to hike in
- Appropriate footwear to go on the unbeaten path
- A water bottle with extra water
- Extra layers of clothes depending on the weather
- Sunglasses with retention strap
- A small waterproof bag
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