Top 5 Places to Breathe In That Fresh Mountain Air

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Discover a newfound adventure in the outdoors. Find wide open spaces to explore. These five places will get you outside in the fresh mountain air.

The Dolly Sods Wilderness is an area of over 17,000 acres in the Monongahela National Forest – more than enough space to let your mind run free. This is one of the most picturesque places in the entire state. Dense woods and grassy slopes paint a picture of serenity on the plateau. The elevation allows for plants and vegetation that you wouldn’t imagine finding, like red spruce, heath shrubs and sphagnum bog, that are typical to areas much farther north, like eastern Canada. Dolly Sods was heavily utilized during World War II, when the US Army used the area as a practice artillery and mortar range. Crews searched the area in 1997 and excavated mortar shells and other debris. While here, be sure to stick to the designated trails, as it also helps protect local wildlife.

To see something truly spectacular, visit Grandview near Beckley. As the name suggests, you’ll find some grand views of the New River and its watershed. The area has several trails ranging in length and difficulty, all offering unsurpassed views of the deepest section of New River Gorge. Grandview is also known for the beautiful rhododendron that bloom in the spring and summer.

By now you know that West Virginia has no shortage of incredible views and vantage points. Coopers Rock is another area with breathtaking scenery and fresh mountain air. Located a short drive from Morgantown, Coopers Rock State Forest features canyon overlooks, historical sites, and 50 miles of hiking and biking trails. The main overlook is a quick walk from the parking lot, but for a truly unbelievable view try hiking out to Raven’s Rock. This less traveled, 2.5-mile roundtrip trail opens up to the Cheat River Canyon. It’s the perfect place to clear your mind and take in nature.

The Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory is an old fire tower that offers 360-degree views of Peters Mountain in Monroe County. Bring your binoculars because this observatory is perfect for avid birdwatchers as hawks, eagles, osprey and falcons can be found soaring about. It’s one of the nation’s premier outlooks for birds of prey. The easy 2-mile roundtrip hike is ideal for friends and families.

Far from civilization but close to heaven lies Seneca Rocks. It’s arguably the most iconic landmark in West Virginia and something that everyone should experience some time in their life. The sheer rock face also makes this a popular bucket-list item for climbers. It’s a little bit of a strenuous up-hill hike, but there’s plenty of benches along the way for you to stop and rest. Once you get to the top of the formation, it’s as if time stops and you’re left speechless. Take a moment to shut your eyes and listen to the stillness. It’s quite moving.

Where will you head first?

This post was last updated on August 6, 2020