The Monongahela National Forest is in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia. There are campgrounds, picnic areas, and over 800 mi (1,300 km) of hiking trails, in addition to mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, boating, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, hunting, and fishing.
- Monongahela National Forest, 200 Sycamore Street, +1 304-636-1800.
- Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, Intersection of Route 33 and Route 55, +1 304-567-2827
- Cheat Ranger District, On US Route 219 just east of Parsons, +1 304-478-3251
- Gauley Ranger District, 932 North Fork Cherry Road Richwood, WV 26261, +1 304-846-2695
- Greenbrier Ranger District, On Rt 92/250 just east of Bartow, +1 304-456-3335
- Marlinton Ranger District, On Cemetery Road off Rt 39 at the eastern edge of Marlinton, +1 304-799-4334
- Potomac Ranger District, 1.5 miles south of Petersburg off Rt. 28/55, +1 304-257-4488
- White Sulphur Springs District, 410 E. Main Street
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986, +1 304-536-2144
- Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, At the intersection of Rt 39/55 and Rt 150, +1 304-653-4826
The MNF is more than 900,000 acres (360,000 hectares) and encompasses several wilderness areas, including Seneca Rocks and Spruce Knob. Within the forest are many small communities that have limited lodging, restaurants and small shops. Before hiking, camping, fishing, etc., be sure you are not trespassing on private land.
Flora and fauna
The MNF is about an hour east of Elkins. Take US-33 West.
Fees and permits
- Blackwater Falls State Park, toll-free: . This park is part of the Monongahela National Forest and features Blackwater Falls, but has two other waterfalls (Elakala and Pendelton), 20 miles of hiking trails, 10 miles of cross country skiing trails, and trout fishing in Blackwater River.
- Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge 6263 Appalachian Hwy Davis, WV 26260-8061, ☏ . Canaan Valley NWR provides a Canadian/Maine like wetland environment in the mountains of West Virginia. The large open wetlands and the great mountains of West Virginia provide for great views. Activities such as hiking, biking, cross country skiing, horseback riding, hunting, and fishing are allowed. Wildlife observation and photography are encouraged. The Refuge Headquarters and Visitors Center is on Route 32 south of Davis, WV.
- Spruce Knob, Forest Road 104, ☏ . The highest point in West Virginia, at 4,861 feet. A stone and steel observation tower provides 360-degree views, and there's a half-mile trail circling the Knob. If there is favorable weather (no snow), the observation tower is a relatively easy 20-25 minute drive up a paved roadway. If the short trail around the observation tower isn't enough, the Huckleberry Trail leaves from the parking lot and travels 6 miles along a rocky trail to Seneca Creek. Fishing, hiking and an on-site campground with 43 sites can also be found in the Spruce Knob recreation area.
- Seneca Rocks, Intersection of Route 33 and Route 55, ☏ . 900-foot-tall formations made of Tuscarora quartzite with over 375 mapped climbing routes and a self-guided interpretive trail with a viewing platform.
- 1 Seneca Rocks Climbing School, 27 Allegheny Drive, Suite B (Behind/Between Harper's and Yokum's general stores), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. For those interested in reaching the South Peak of Seneca Rocks, Seneca Rocks Climbing School (SRCS) offers guided rock climbing and instruction for everyone from complete beginner to expert. SRCS has been guiding climbers young and old since 1971.
- 1 The Gendarme, 27 Allegheny Drive, Suite A, ☏ . If you're a climber visiting Seneca Rocks, The Gendarme gear shop has everything a climber might need, from ropes to helmets and from headlamps to coffee.
The Monongahela National Forest covers an enormous area; therefore any list of restaurants serving the MNF will include food from numerous locations. Outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Smokehole Caverns (north-west section of the MNF) will find sustenance nearby in Petersburg, while hikers or hunters in the northern most reaches of the park will find great dining options in Thomas or Davis.
There are more than 20 campgrounds in the MNF. Accessibility of campgrounds varies.
Backcountry camping is allowed in most areas, provided you stay so far off the road and leave-no-trace.
Understand that given the large size of the Monongahela National Forest a short get away in one location may be pretty far from another location. Therefore, giving directions are tough and distinguishing approximate drive times would be inaccurate. Here are some relatively close destinations. Check elsewhere for more detailed drive directions and drive times.
- Harrisonburg, Virginia is east of the MNF, and home to James Madison University.
- Beckley, West Virginia is south-west of the MNF and has an exhibition coal mine where visitors have the opportunity to experience the life of a turn of a century miner.
- Charleston, West Virginia is also south-west of the MNF, and the capital of the Mountain State.
- Roanoke, Virginia, called the Star City of the South, is south of the MNF, not too far into Virginia.
- Morgantown, West Virginia, is north-west of the MNF, and home to WVU and the Mountaineers.
- Cumberland, Maryland, is north-east of the MNF, and is where the Great Allegany Passage and C & O Towpath trails meet.