Hike Through West Virginia’s Best-Kept Secret

These past few years I have had the opportunity to explore and photograph some of West Virginia’s hidden, but noteworthy areas including those located in the Appalachian Mountains. In the heart of the Monongahela National Forest, you’ll find a cluster of some of the best natural outdoor adventures WV has to offer. The area is known for its world-class fly fishing, strenuous hiking trails, and multi-pitch climbs up to the summits of Seneca Rocks.

When you think of adventure spots in West Virginia, you’ll probably think of the New River Gorge, the U.S. 63rd National Park. But if you’re looking to get deeper into the beauty of West Virginia, you’ll want to take a few days to really see Grant, Tucker, and Pendleton Counties of West Virginia.

All of the locations I share below are located less than an hour from each other, and hands down are some of the most beautiful places West Virginia has to offer.

Dolly Sods Wilderness

Dolly Sods is unlike any place that I’ve seen within the Appalachian range. The area contains drainage from Red Creek, creating bog, stunted red spruce, and health eco-type commonly typical to southern Canada. The area has layers of variation from the striking red color in its ferns to the layers of blue along the mountain ridges that line the horizon. So far Dolly Sods, specifically Bear Rocks, has captured my heart as my favorite place in West Virginia to watch the sunrise. Never have I been disappointed in a sunrise here, except for one time when it was pouring down rain. One of the best parts about catching a burn at Bear Rocks is that you can see the full scale of color right off the side of the road near the parking area.

To get to Bear Rocks, pictured below, you’ll want to take the trailhead [to the right of the parking area]. Bear Rocks is a quick 3-minute walk, not to get confused with the Bear Rock Trail [at the center of the parking area]. 

You can find the GPS location the Bear Rocks lookout on my PrettylilWestVirginia Google map. 

If you are looking for a nice hike to explore more of the Dolly Sods Wilderness, check out the Bear Rocks Trail to Raven Ridge Trail. 

TRAIL: Bear Rocks Trail to Raven Ridge Trail and Dobbin Grade Trail
LOCATION: Located near Cabins, West Virginia
MILES: 6.6 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +744 ft Elevation Change
FACILITIES: No Facilities

North Fork Mountain

Wow, oh wow! There are many things that make the ridge top North Fork Mountain Trail spectacular. Maybe it’s the 360-degree views that await you on top of the Chimney Top or the countless falcons and bald eagles that nest in the trees and soar above you as you hike across the quartzite crest mountain top.

Backpacking the North Fork Mountain Trail’s 24.7 miles is challenging, strenuous, and definitely not for everyone but I’ll say it’s a hiker’s dream of spending your day enjoying relentless views of WV’s countryside.

However, if you are looking for something a little less challenging but will still place you right in the middle of the action, then you should definitely put North Fork Mountain to Chimney Top at the top of your list. It is, to this day, my favorite hike in West Virginia.

TRAIL: North Fork Moutain to Chimney Top
LOCATION: Located near Cabins, West Virginia
MILES: 5.3 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +1,971 ft Elevation Change
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Strenuous
FACILITIES: No Facilities
TIPS: At the top of the mountain there are a few false viewpoints that have gorgeous views, but keep your eye on your GPS tracker because it’s easy to go off course or miss the turn up to Chimney Top.

Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks are one of the best-known landmarks in West Virginia. You can see these incredible rock formations from right off the road, or if you want to get your blood flowing, hike the Seneca Rocks Trail to the top of the rocks. Climbers come from all over to summit the highest technical peak, Devil’s Tower. Seneca Rocks definitely owns its title as one of the best climbing destinations on the East Coast.

TRAIL: Seneca Rocks Trail
LOCATION: Located near Seneca Rocks, West Virginia
MILES: 3.6 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +839 ft Elevation Change
FACILITIES: No Facilities
TIPS: Be careful if you choose to climb onto the rocks. There are many signs warning that climbing on the rocks can be very dangerous, but it definitely is possible and honestly, it’s the only way to actually view the rocks from the top of the trail.


Head another 25 minutes north past the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center for an experience of a lifetime at Nelson’s Rocks, NROCKS Outdoor Adventure. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to scale the side of a mountain or walk over an enchanting suspension bridge then book a guided tour on West Virginia’s own Via Ferrata, one of the top via Ferratas in the United States, and one of the only via ferratas on the eastern side of the states. 

DURATION: 3.5-5 hours
ELEVATION: +1085 ft Elevation
DETAILS: Cross a suspension bridge that is 150 feet high and 200 feet long, and reaches exposed heights of 280 feet. 

If the via ferrata is pushing you a little too far outside of your comfort zone, there are many other activities you can still do at NRocks such as guided rock climbing, wild caving and zip lining. 

Spruce Knob

At 4861 feet above sea level, Spruce Knob is West Virginia’s Highest Point and the highest point of the Allegheny Mountains and Appalachian Plateaus. This area offers backpacking and day hiking opportunities for the visitors looking to get a splendid view of the gorgeous natural scenery surrounding the area. While I have not had a chance to explore Spruce Knob, I have been recommended the Huckleberry Trail by multiple people! 

TRAIL: Spruce Knob via Huckleberry Trail
LOCATION: Located near Riverton, West Virginia
MILES: 11.4 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +1,368 ft Elevation Change

Lastly, a bucket list hike that you’ll want to add to your West Virginia to-do list is the High Knob Tower Trail located on the border of West Virginia and Virginia. This trail will travel you through the Appalachian Mountains, and reward you with 360 degree views of  the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. While the High Knob Tower Trail may not necessarily be near, in distance, to the rest of these hikes in this area (about an hour away), it’s the perfect  hike to check out if you are journeying through to Virginia as Shenandoah National Park is a short distance away. 

TRAIL: High Knob Tower Trail
LOCATION: Located near Brandywine, West Virginia
MILES: 2.7 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +682 ft Elevation Change
ON TRAIL CAMPING: While you can not sleep in the High Knob Fire Tower, there is a fire pit and space for a campsite at the base of the Fire Lookout that you can use to set up camp for the night. 
TIPS: I suggest doing this hike to be at the Tower for sunrise or sunset.

Where To Stay

Harman's Luxury Log Cabins

Located less than 20 minutes from Dolly Sods, Seneca Rocks, and North Fork Mountain, Harman’s Luxury Log Cabins are the perfect place to stay when exploring the area. There’s something for everyone at Harman’s. All of the cabins have been recently updated with a modern, clean layout and are very well taken care of. Each cabin comes equipped with everything you need to have a cozy stay, plus an outdoor jacuzzi, fire pit, indoor fireplace, and 2 fishing permits to enjoy their 2 miles of private access trophy trout stream, providing anglers the opportunity to fish for beautiful trophy trout.

Upon my recent stay, I was also excited to find out that they also have hiking trails located on the property. Whether you are looking for an easy stroll along the stream or a more advanced day hike, you’re sure to find your fill at Harman’s. 

The Thorny Mountain Fire Tower

The Thorny Mountain Fire Tower is one of West Virginia State Parks’ most iconic attractions. The 65-foot tower provides 360-degree views of the forest and unobstructed views of the night sky. The tower may be reserved for overnight stays, between May and October. The tower has two cots but can accommodate up to four guests.

The Fire Tower is a popular attraction in WV, and books up quickly. I have yet to be able to find an available date. Wishing you good luck!

PrettylilWestVirginia - Downloadable Google Map

What You'll Find Inside

PrettylilWestVirginia is my downloadable Google map of the coolest places to visit around the beautiful state of West Virginia!

Let’s be honest, no one has the time to spend reading blog after blog and scrolling through Instagram to land of these locations. Skip the scrolling and start living. Once you download my PrettylilWestVirginia map or any of my other Google Maps, you’ll add the freedom to just get in your car and go.

Hike up to old fire towers, go off-roading on the Hatfield–McCoy trails, see the tallest waterfall in the Northeast, explore my favorite photography spots, and escape to the places never even knew existed right at your fingertips. There’s so much to discover in the hills of West Virginia.

I’ve spent countless hours researching and tracking all of my stops around West Virginia I’ve vetted the best destinations and most instagrammable photo opts for you to take with you on your travels. These are the maps that I use for all of my road trip planning.

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