You may have never heard of a “roadless area” but chances are they’re key to your recreational experience. Some of the places we all know and love best in the Monongahela National Forest are designated as “roadless areas” including Seneca Creek, Roaring Plains, Canaan Loop, Tea Creek, and North Mountain. These areas were protected in 2001 under the Forest Service’s Roadless Rule to limit increasing development of remote public lands.
Aside from our federally designated wilderness areas, roadless areas provide some of the most sought-after destinations in the Monongahela National Forest for hikers, bikers, paddlers, hunters, and anglers. In many instances roadless areas overlap with the backcountry recreation management prescription in the Mon Forest Plan, highlighting their importance in providing “wild and wonderful” outdoor opportunities.
North Mountain Roadless Area: Known for rocky ridges and offering scenic views of the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River, the North Fork Mountain Trail to Chimney Rocks was declared the “best hike in WV” in 2017 by Backpacker Magazine. In the rain shadow of Spruce Knob, North Mountain is the driest habitat in the state. Previously an contender for an IMBA Epic ride.
Seneca Creek Roadless Area: An IMBA Epic ride can take you from the summit of West Virginia’s highest mountain down the Huckleberry Trail, along a world-class trout stream and to a popular campsite near Judy Springs. Extreme kayakers have been known to paddle Seneca Creek.
Roaring Plains Roadless Area: Offers a critical link between the Roaring Plains West and Dolly Sods wilderness, containing the southern extreme of boreal forest-type habitat. The high elevation plateau on the edge of the Allegheny Front that gives Roaring Plains its name looks out upon the most vertical relief in the state. Popular hikes include Boars Nest Trail and Roaring Plains Trail.
Tea Creek Roadless Area: A campground, trail system, three backcountry shelters and the ruins of historic logging camps all tucked in the beautiful Williams River valley. The rock gardens and steep descents of Gauley Mountain and Tea Creek trails are beloved by the local mountain biking community and host yet another IMBA Epic ride.
Hills Creek Roadless Area: A very popular short trail leads to the Falls of Hills Creek, a series of three waterfalls with the last one being one of the tallest waterfalls in West Virginia, plunging a dramatic 63 overhanging feet.
Cheat Mountain Roadless Area: The most common way to see this roadless area is via a scenic excursion train named the Cheat Mountain Salamander that starts from Elkins. The train runs along the border of the roadless area and stops at the High Falls of the Cheat, which are only accessible via rail or trail.
Canaan Loop, Little Allegheny Mountain, Middle Mountain, and Little Mountain Roadless Areas: All contain segments of the Allegheny Trail, a 330 mile north-to-south trail through West Virginia and the Monongahela National Forest from the Appalachian Trail to the Mason-Dixon line. Canaan Loop offers two trail shelters for backpackers in thick spruce forests.
East Fork Greenbrier Roadless Area: The adjacent Island Campground is a popular spot for fishermen.
Marlin Mountain Roadless Area: Contains a portion of the Greenbrier River Trail, a 78-mile rail-to-trail and a WV State Park. A favorite among hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians for day trips or extended overnight adventures.
West Virginia Rivers Coalition
3501 MacCorkle Ave SE #129
Charleston, WV 25304