Special Places

Wilderness Areas

Monongahela National Forest includes 115,000 acres of Wilderness designated under the National Wilderness Preservation System. Two Wilderness Areas were designated in 1975: Dolly Sods and Otter Creek. Three Wilderness Areas were added in 1983: Cranberry, Laurel Fork North and Laurel Fork South. Three additional Wilderness Areas were designated in 2009: Big Draft, Roaring Plains West and Spice Run while three existing areas were expanded: Cranberry, Dolly Sods and Otter Creek.

More on Wilderness Areas within Monongahela National Forest

Highlighted Areas

Cranberry Mountain Nature Center

The Cranberry Mountain Nature Center is fun for visitors of all ages and backgrounds, and includes an exhibit hall, auditorium, events and programs. The center also features a native plant garden, a nature trail, and many activities for children. Be sure to walk the interpretive trail on the grounds. Signs point out tree species and give facts on the many uses of the trees. At the overlook enjoy a picnic lunch and the view of Stamping Creek, just down the mountain, to the mountains of Virginia in the distance.

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

Encompassing 100,000 acres, the scenic Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area (NRA) contains the highest peak in West Virginia, some of the best rock climbing on the east coast, outstanding views and a chance to enjoy America's great outdoors.

Visitor facilities include the Seneca Rocks Discovery CenterSeneca Shadows and Big Bend Campgrounds, and the Spruce Knob Tower. Many thousands of acres of unspoiled quiet land await discovery. Use your imagination to see how the area may have looked to the early settlers, as they crested the mountain ridges or moved up the river. Imagine living a self-sufficient life on a high hillside farm. Envision the Native Americans gathering food on hunting forays. You will discover not only beauty, but a sense of history in the NRA.

Highland Scenic Highway

The Highland Scenic Highway is a designated National Scenic Byway that extends 43 miles from Richwood to US Route 219, north of Marlinton. Four scenic overlooks provide a comfortable rest stop, with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Highway traverses the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Highlands and Plateau, and rises from 2,325 feet near Richwood to more than 4,500 feet.

The Highway is a paved two-lane road, designated as State Routes 39 and 150. Route 150 is a 23-mile Parkway section that is not maintained in the winter. Winter travel on the road may be treacherous, the road is often impassible during winter storms. Travel is highly discouraged on Route 150 between November and April. Toilets at overlooks are closed in winter.

Seneca Rocks Discovery Center

The Seneca Rocks Discovery Center is located at the base of Seneca Rocks. An amazing view of the vertical wall of the Rocks dominates the scene. The Center is a great place to start your visit and learn about things to do in the area. Be sure to stop in at the nearby Sites Homestead.

Falls of Hills Creek

Tucked away in a narrow gorge just off the Highland Scenic Highway is a hidden treasure known as the Falls of Hills Creek Scenic Area. This popular 114 acre area contains three waterfalls - 25 feet, 45 feet, and 63 feet. The lower falls, at 63 feet is the second highest waterfall in West Virginia.

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area

The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area protects the largest area of bogs in West Virginia. Bogs are acidic wetlands more commonly found in the northern areas of this country and in Canada. The ground in a bog is spongy and consists largely of partially-decayed plant material known as peat. Because of its unique conditions, some unusual plants grow in bogs, including carnivorous or insect-eating plants. The Botanical Area encompasses 750 acres.