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25 Most Beautiful West Virginia Mountains
- Seneca Rocks, Photo: Courtesy of steheap - Fotolia.com
- Spruce Knob, Photo: Courtesy of Tristan - Fotolia.com
- Bear Rocks, Photo: Courtesy of Kenneth Keifer - Fotolia.com
- Red Spruce Knob, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Bickle Knob, Photo: Courtesy of Paul - Fotolia.com
- Rose Benchmark, Photo: Courtesy of portishead5 - Fotolia.com
- Cheat Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Kazmierski - Fotolia.com
- Back Allegheny Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of portishead5 - Fotolia.com
- Mount Port Crayon, Photo: Courtesy of johnsroad7 - Fotolia.com
- North Fork Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of alexandre zveiger - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of SNEHIT - Fotolia.com
Allegheny Mountain is one of the best-known mountain ridges in the Allegheny Mountain Range, which forms part of the Appalachian Mountains on the Virginia/West Virginia state line. You will find no less than 14 peaks along this ridge, the tallest of which is Paddy Knob at 4,477 feet. A large part of the surrounding area is called the Paddy Knob Special Biological Area, and is home to many rare and/or endangered bird species, such as the bald eagle and mourning warbler. The area is remote and undeveloped – a paradise for hikers and wildlife watchers who enjoy solitude. The challenging Paddy Knob Trail, which climbs over 2,300 feet, will take you to the highest point on the ridge, while less adventurous hikers can find many easier trails in the nearby Monongahela National Forest.
Shavers Mountain is another of West Virginia’s towering mountain ridges in the Allegheny Range in eastern West Virginia. Shavers Mountain is really special as it lies between exceptionally scenic natural wilderness areas – the Otter Creek Wilderness and the Gaudineer Scenic Area, both of which offer outdoor enthusiasts a wide range of hiking trails. The highest point on Shavers Mountain is Gaudineer Knob (4,460 feet), which is accessible by car along Forest Service Road 27A; there is a picnic site and toilets at the summit. Hikers can explore many very scenic trails in the area, including the High Falls Trail, while campers can pitch their tent at Shavers Fork Campground or enjoy trail-side backcountry camping.
Running for 73 miles along the border of Virginia and West Virginia in the George Washington National Forest, Shenandoah Mountain forms the eastern-most part of the Allegheny Mountain Range. Shenandoah Mountain has three notable peaks, namely Reddish Knob (4,387 feet), Flagpole Knob (4,383 feet), and Bald Knob (3,680 feet), all of which beckon ardent Peak Baggers, while the entire area is very popular for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and camping. You can reach the summit of Reddish Knob by mountain bike along an asphalt road or hike to the peak for amazing 360-degree views of the Shenandoah Valley. There are many campsites in the valley and a multitude of hiking trails, including a section of the famous Appalachian Trail.
Backbone Mountain is located in the central Appalachian Mountain Range, running 39 miles from West Virginia to Maryland, where the peak of the mountain at Hoye-Crest (3,360 feet) is the highest spot in Maryland. On the West Virginia side of the mountain you will find the beautiful Blackwater Falls State Park, which offers hikers and mountain bikers an extensive network of trails along which you can explore Backbone Mountain. You can rent a cabin or pitch your tent at the campground and spend a few days enjoying a wide variety of outdoor activities, including nature walks, bird-watching, hiking, biking, fishing, and ranger-led interpretive programs for all ages.
Castle Mountain is an elevated ridge running between the north and south branches of the Potomac River in Pendleton County, West Virginia, just over 7 miles from Spruce Knob, which is the highest peak in West Virginia. Castle Mountain reaches a very respectable elevation of 3,410 feet and a hike to the summit will reward you with extensive views of the surrounding landscape and Spruce Knob to the north. To thoroughly explore this beautiful forested mountain area, you can set up camp at Seneca Shadows Campground or Big Ben Campground and spend some quality time enjoying nature in the heart of the West Virginia Appalachians.
Great North Mountain
Located west of the famous Shenandoah Valley and east of the Allegheny Mountains, the Great North Mountain forms a 50-mile border between Virginia and West Virginia. Part of Great North Mountain falls within the beautiful George Washington National Forest, which offers outdoor enthusiasts a veritable playground in which to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and wildlife watching. You can explore an extensive network of trails, including part of the Tuscarora/Blue Ridge Trail, the Seven Springs Trail, and several others that lead to the impressive Big Schloss peak. Campers will find several free campsites along the trails and backcountry camping is also available.
Forming part of the Allegheny Mountains, Laurel Mountain (or Laurel Hill) is a meandering 32-mile ridge that runs between the Cheat River and the Tygart River Valley in the Ridge-and-Valley region of West Virginia. Outdoor enthusiasts who prefer solitude will be pleased to know that the Laurel Fork North and South Wilderness areas are both relatively lightly trafficked and are perfectly suited to backpacking and backcountry camping. The area offers over 19 miles of trails to explore and you can enjoy beautiful scenery, swimming holes, fishing, and bird-watching along the route. If you happen to be a West Virginia Peak Bagger, you can add the Elliot Benchmark peak (3,157 feet) to your list of conquests.
New Creek Mountain
New Creek Mountain is another of West Virginia’s long mountain ridges that are part of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachian range. New Creek Mountain reaches an elevation of 3,084 feet and beckons hikers and scramblers to come and explore both Saddle Mountain (a saddle-shaped depression in the ridge that is best viewed from the nearby town of Skyline) and the very impressive New Creek Mountain Cliffs. If you are not up for taking on the challenge of hiking up to the rims of the very steep triangular gorge at New Creek Mountain Cliffs, you can take a scenic drive along the paved country road that follows the banks of Patterson Creek.
South Branch Mountain
Located in the Nathaniel Mountain Wildlife Management Area of West Virginia, South Branch Mountain is one of the most prominent ridges in this mountainous area. The highest point along the ridge rises to 3,028 feet above sea level, and you can explore the area by means of a scenic drive along the Northwestern Turnpike in the Sunrise Summit Area. The Wildlife Management Area is heavily wooded and offers a network of interesting hiking trails and opportunities for wildlife watching, hunting, trout fishing, swimming, kayaking, and camping. Part of the famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail is located to the east of South Branch Mountain if you are looking for a more challenging hiking experience.
Named by German settlers for its resemblance to a castle, Big Schloss is a prominent rocky peak in the Great North Mountain range of the Appalachians. The mountain is located right on the border between Virginia and West Virginia and offers hiking enthusiasts a selection of trails to reach the peak. The most popular route to the summit is via the 4-mile Mill Mountain Trail from Wolf Gap. It is considered a moderate route and will reward you will wonderful views from the summit, which is reached via a wooden bridge. You can set up camp at the Wolf Gap Campground or bring along your tent and enjoy a night of backcountry camping near the summit.
Nestled in the heart of the Nathaniel Mountain Wildlife Management Area of West Virginia, Nathaniel Mountain reaches an elevation of 2,739 feet and is one of three prominent ridges in this heavily wooded undulating landscape. The area surrounding the mountain offers a wide diversity of activities for outdoor enthusiasts – you can spend your time walking or hiking along a variety of trails or enjoy some excellent bird watching at the two wetlands, which are pretty unique at such a high altitude. Other activities include swimming, trout fishing, kayaking, hunting, mountain biking, and trail running. You can try primitive camping inside the Wildlife Management Area or bring your tent or RV to the nearby Wapocoma Campground.
Patterson Creek Mountain
Forming the border between Mineral and Hampshire counties in West Virginia, Patterson Creek Mountain is a long undulating ridge flanked by Patterson Creek. The highest point along the ridge is Charles Knob at 2,723 feet, and in addition there are several more peaks waiting to be conquered. The Patterson Creek Trail System is popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and even trail runners and attracts a number of annual mountain bike events and marathons. The adjacent Patterson Creek offers a variety of water activities, including swimming, trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and tube-floating and there are good opportunities for backcountry camping and wildlife watching as well as several serviced campgrounds in close proximity.
Mill Creek Mountain
Although Mill Creek Mountain is by no means one of the tallest mountains in West Virginia, this long and undulating mountain ridge, which forms part of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, is certainly worth exploring. You can take on the tallest 2,650-foot summit at High Knob or opt to hike along the ridge and explore some of the other 12 interesting summits. Visitors to the area should make a point of visiting Hanging Rocks, a perpendicular series of sandstone cliffs which rise almost 300 feet above the South Branch Potomac River, which has carved a gap right through Mill Creek Mountain. Outdoor activities include hiking, mountain biking, wildlife watching, and camping.
Running northwest through Hampshire and Morgan counties in the Eastern Panhandle area of West Virginia, Cacapon Mountain reaches a height of 2,618 feet. A large portion of the scenic mountain lies within Cacapon Resort State Park, which you can use as a base for exploring the area – the resort offers cabins and bungalows as well as an inn. There is a 20-mile network of trails within the confines of the state park, varying from gentle nature walks to strenuous hikes and non-hikers can enjoy fishing, horseback riding, boating, swimming, and mountain biking. The scenic Panorama Overlook (off West Virginia Route 9) at the northern end of Cacapon Mountain is definitely worth a visit to admire the views out over three states and the confluence of the Potomac and Cacapon rivers.
Sleepy Creek Mountain
Forming part of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians in the Eastern Panhandle, Sleepy Creek Mountain and Third Hill Mountain form a blind valley that is home to Sleepy Creek Lake and the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. Outdoor enthusiasts can set up a basecamp at one of the primitive camping sites in the wildlife area and spend a few days exploring all the outdoor activities on offer, which include hiking, walking, hunting and trapping, wildlife watching, and fishing. Hiking enthusiasts and backpackers can set off along the 14.6-mile Tuscarora Trail from Sleepy Creek Lake and spend a night or two enjoying backcountry camping en route.