Monongahela National Forest

The Monongahela National Forest just might be the definitive high-mountain forest experience that includes roughly a million acres and reaches an elevation of 4,863 feet. More than 900,000 multi-use, public-access acres make this the ultimate natural escape. Breathtaking vistas, winding country roads, pristine streams and lush meadows await your exploration.

Teeming with wildlife, the Monongahela is home to black bear, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, woodcock, grouse and more. Campgrounds and picnic areas are plentiful. Extensive trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, many of them railroad grades, make the Monongahela a perennial favorite where visitors marvel at a natural utopia that seems to go forever.

Travel to any of the 6 districts (Cheat Ranger, Gauley Ranger, Greenbrier Ranger, Marlington Ranger, Potomac Ranger, and White Sulphur Ranger) that include spacious campgrounds and river sites that can be rented for family enjoyment. Most campgrounds feature extensive scenic hiking, biking and horseback riding trails that differ in the level of difficulty and length, with the 47 mile Dolly Sods Wilderness trails being the most popular. Cast your line out to catch one of the 87 species of fish in the various lakes, ponds, rivers, and 600 miles of streams, or enjoy the limited hunting opportunities available. Spend the day adventuring outside while you view scenery from the many observation towers and wait in anticipation to catch a glimpse of black bears, whitetail deer, and songbirds that are found in the area. Sign up for an interpretive hike to learn more about the surrounding area for a beneficial educational experience. If temperatures are smoldering, take a dip in the authorized swimming areas in the river and lakes, or rent boats and canoes to glide along the fresh waters. If you are feeling courageous, hit the trails on the Allegheny Mountains while you snowmobile, ski, or snowshoe across the blankets of snow atop the mountain.

Outdoor Recreation

Dolly Sods

The Dolly Sods Wilderness and Scenic Area is one of the Monongahela National Forest’s most treasured natural assets. Situated atop one of the highest plateaus east of the Mississippi, this U.S. Wilderness Area is characterized by weather typically found much further north in Canada, hence its nickname “a bit of Canada gone astray.” Its rocky, boulder-strewn and densely forested landscape is home to several notable summits, including Coal Knob, Breathed Mountain and Blackbird Knob. The lofty elevation, much of it at nearly 4,000 feet, affords awe-inspiring views. More than 47 miles of hiking trails, some trail-to-rail and old logging roads, make the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area a fascinating place for hiking.

Smoke Hole Caverns and Seneca Caverns

Travel within the Monongahela National Forest to the Smoke Hole Caverns to take a peek at what’s lurking under the scenic greenery of West Virginia. Travel deep within the cave as you hear the trickling flow of water while you view the many stalagmites and stalactites hanging overhead and covering the floors. These historic formations are bizarre and create magnificent views for everyone to awe at. Make a trip out of your visit and stay at the Smoke Hole Resort which offers deluxe cabins and even an RV camping site.

Escape to the underground and tour Seneca Caverns as you dip 165 feet below the entrance and view monstrous geological formations that create the “picture perfect” view for the entire family. View the structures that were created over 460 million years ago and stand in the spot Seneca Indians roamed in the early 1400’s. Make a weekend getaway and explore other features the cavern offer such as gemstone mining and local area attractions.


Rocky Ridge Trail

Want to experience expansive panoramic views of Canaan Valley? Try out the 3 mile Rocky Ridge Trail located at the end of Forest Rd. 80 atop Cabin Mountain. This moderate to difficult trail follows the ridge and offers the best views of the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, which isn’t a view you would want to miss out on. The trail offers the best of both worlds as you can view Canaan Valley to the west and Dolly Sods to the east.


Bike Packing

Tucker County is the ultimate place to experience this wildly popular trend. Grab your bike, a couple days’ food and shelter and explore hundreds of miles of trails and gravel roads through the Monongahela National Forest.

Wildlife Watching

Bird Banding Station

Join the many birding clubs who maintain a banding station along the Allegheny Front in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. Gently capture birds to identify, band, and then release to track their various migratory patterns throughout the course of the year. Visit a bird branding station throughout September and early October to explore and gain knowledge on the richness of diversity of bird species and their behaviors.

Hunting & Fishing


Hunting is allowed on the Monongahela National Forest. All West Virginia Division of Natural Resources regulations govern hunting regulations on Forest. There may be special seasons and regulations in the state designated Wildlife Management Areas. For a map and information about wildlife management areas, click here.

Monongahela National Forest Regulations

West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Regulations



Cheat and Potomac headwaters make for a world class trout fishing destination. Fishing regulations and trout stocking information is listed with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.

Blackwater River Blackwater River (C&R) Clover Run Dry Fork Horseshoe Run Red Creek