Crossing into West Virginia, one of the first things you see are mountains! Known as the Mountain State, West Virginia is the only state entirely within the Appalachian Mountain range. Wild Wonderful West Virginia has many mountains to visit.
In fact, seventy-eight percent of West Virginia is covered in forest and there are three National Forest lands in the state; Monongahela, George Washington and Jefferson. The Monongahela National Forest encompasses just under 1,000,000 acres of land and spans ten counties.
And most of the privately owned land in West Virginia remains as forested hills and mountains, given the low population—under 2 million— and the incredibly rugged nature of the mountains in much of the state.
West Virginia has a higher mean elevation than any state in the eastern part of the United States, at 1,654 feet. The highest level is Spruce Knob at 4,862 feet. Spruce Knob is also home to the highest ridge of the Allegheny Mountains. Several of its peaks exceed 4,500 feet in elevation. Spruce Knob is located in the Monongahela National Forest.
If you’re not a fan of hiking, don’t worry—you can drive to the top of Spruce Knob. Once you get there, there is a distinct difference from other summits in the state. The top portion of the mountain is covered by a large population of spruce trees, making it more similar to New England or Canada than the Southern Appalachian mountains.
Not too far of a drive from Spruce Knob is Seneca Rocks, also located in the Monongahela National Forest. Seneca Rocks a large crag popular with rock climbers. The south peak is one of a small number of peaks inaccessible except by technical rock climbing techniques on the East Coast of the United States. It is one of the best-known scenic attractions in West Virginia, as the sheer rock faces are a popular challenge for rock climbers.
Another great mountain to visit is Back Allegheny Mountain. The mountain encompasses an area that is 18 miles long and eight miles wide. Located in Pocahontas County, Back Allegany’s highest elevation is at 4,843 feet. A wonderful way to view Back Alleghany is via the Cass Scenic Railroad. Bald Knob, the pinnacle of the mountain, is the final destination for the Cass Railroad, which takes passengers up the mountain. Its a beautiful way to relax and take in the beauty of this area.
Peters Mountain is located toward the southern part of West Virginia and sits on the border of Virginia. Its elevation ranges from 4,073 feet on the mountaintop to a low of 2,300 feet. There are numerous sandstone outcroppings along the crest of Peters Mountain and a number of high mountain bogs on Pine Swamp Ridge. The mountain was named for Peter Wright, who settled by the mountain in Covington, Virginia, in 1746.
At the top of Peters Mountain is the Hanging Rock Observatory, one of the best spots in the state to view migrating hawks, eagles, falcons, and osprey. There is no electricity or running water at the site, and the only bathroom is an outhouse. The hike to the top is strenuous and close to a mile.
Grandview National Park offers sweeping views of the Appalachian Mountains and the New River Gorge. Easily accessible by car is the Grandview Overview. The Overview is 1400 feet above the river, and on a clear day, you can see several miles of the New River and its watershed.
There are also hiking trails that go through calm woodlands, past mountain streams, and up to the top of beautiful scenic overlooks. Grandview is located in the southwestern part of the state in the town of Beckley.