Explore the Mononghela National Forest May 20-21

Join us for the Best of Birthplace of Rivers Weekend, May 20-21, 2017 in Slatyfork, WV!

Explore some of the best West Virginia’s public lands have to offer during WV Rivers’ Best of Birthplace weekend in Monongahela National Forest!

This weekend is designed to get you outside enjoying and learning about public lands! People of all ages, including families with children, are welcome!


Space is limited, so make sure you register for the Best of Birthplace of Rivers Weekend soon!

Adult registration is $20/adult and youth registration is $5/child under 15 years old. Registration includes Saturday dinner, Sunday lunch, and all programming. Saturday lodging and Sunday breakfast are not provided.

Register for the Best of Birthplace of Rivers Weekend here. We’ll follow-up after you register with more information.

Weekend Schedule:

Saturday, May 20 

On Saturday, you’ll explore the natural systems of the forest around our base for the weekend, the Elk River Inn. You’ll learn how the natural springs of the forest feed drinking water supplies for West Virginia. You’ll evaluate the health of a stream by looking at the creatures who live in it, and you’ll learn how to go lightly on the land and water when you have fun in the forest.

2:00pm – Registration and welcome at the Elk River Inn, our base camp for the weekend.
2:45 – 6:00 – Interpretive programs. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in all of them!

Interpretive Programs

Stream Investigation. Learn about the critters that call the streams of the Birthplace of Rivers home and what they can teach us about water quality. You’ll catch and identify the bugs and other animals that live at the bottom of streams, based on the animals are found, a determination of water quality can be made.

Spring Walk and Talk. Take a stroll along the Elk River Inn grounds and learn about the unique hydrology of the region. This headwater springs walk will offer a glimpse into our source water as it rises from the Karst topography and becomes part of the Elk River — the drinking water supply for so many West Virginians!

Bears. One of the most charismatic and beloved creatures, black bears are an integral part of the habitat of West Virginia and our public lands. Learn about bears, become aware of how bear nuisances begin, and what to do in the event that you come across a bear in the wilds — or in your backyard! Bears once almost disappeared from our landscape; our public lands provide critical habitat that has enabled them to flourish. Join Watoga State Park naturalist Chris Bartley for an informative program for adults and lots of fun of kids.

Bats of the forest. Bats have always been misunderstood. Even many adults think they are creepy. But they are also one of our most important allies. Join District Ranger Cindy Sandeno ask she explores the amazing adaptations of bats. From echolocation to living in caves to eating insects that could destroy our crops, bats are one of the most fascinating animals around. We need bats, and they definitely need us. Learn why you should LOVE these misunderstood mammals!  We’ll also explore things that you can do at home to help bats and the role that our public lands play in providing safe homes for bats.

6:00 – Buffet BBQ Dinner. Join WV Rivers in welcoming new District Ranger Cindy Sandeno, and learn about ways you can volunteer to take care of our Forest. WV Rivers’ Angie Rosser will describe how our public lands are so important to keeping West Virginia Wild & Wonderful!
6:50 – After dinner program on public lands and how you can get involved protecting them. Door prize drawing.
7:30 – Saturday programming wraps-up. Night-owls, once the sun sets, we’ll gather around a campfire for music and storytelling.

Sunday, May 21
9:30am – Gather back at the Elk River Inn and depart for one of four guided field trips into the Southern Monongahela National Forest. Unless noted, all supplies, gear, shuttle to and from the field trip, and a bagged lunch are provided. Field trips will return to the Elk River Inn around 3-4:00pm and participents will depart.

Hiking: Explore the Highland Scenic Highway. Stops include the Falls of Hills Creek (2mi RT with 250’ elevation gain & 382 steps) and Red Spruce Knob (2.5mi RT with 380’ elevation gain), the highest point in the Birthplace of Rivers. Participants will also explore most of the Highland Scenic Highway, including stops at roadside streams and a chance to fill your bottle with fresh spring water. Participants should prepare for moderate to challenging hiking.

The Cranberry Glades and Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. Participants will explore the bogs and meadows that make up the unique Cranberry Glades. The outing will include a stop along the Highland Scenic Highway to gather fresh spring water, a guided tour of the Cranberry Glades and a live snake show at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. Participants will hike 1-mile with minimal elevation gain. This is the easiest hiking option.

Bike Along the Scenic Williams River. This is a beginner friendly out-and-back bike trip along a paved road which follows the Williams River and the northern boundary of the Cranberry Wilderness. Sights along the way include tumbling streams, the Three Forks of the Williams, and a number of great places to enjoy lunch or fishing (with a license). Distance is variable, but the elevation gain is on the return trip. Light car traffic is possible.

Note: Youth bikes are not provided. Participants are welcome to bring their own bike.

Elk River Fly Fishing Clinic. Mid May is the most active time to experience large mayfly hatches on the Elk River headwaters. Water temps rise and tasty bugs are plentiful. Beginners and advanced anglers alike will enjoy fishing along the renown Elk River. The clinic will begin with casting practice for beginners and folks liking to improve their cast before moving into the River.

Note: A valid fishing license with a trout stamp is required for all participants 15 and older. Residents under 15 years of age, when accompanied by licensed adult, do not require a license. Fishing licenses must be purchased prior to the Best of Birthplace weekend, learn more and purchase your license here. Youth waders are not provided. Participants are welcome to bring their own gear.


Saturday lodging and Sunday breakfast are NOT provided, please plan accordingly. Lodging is available at the Elk River Inn. Learn more about camping and alternative lodging here. If you plan on camping, you’ll want to arrive to the area early to set-up camp before the Best of Birthplace of Rivers Weekend begins. Looking for a camping recommendation? Try the Tea Creek Campground, it’s located about 30 minutes from the Elk River Inn.
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