BEVERLY – Every year, autumn paints our West Virginia hills and mountains with the vivid hues of red, orange, yellow and maroon. Just about every main road, highway and back road is lined with the state’s assorted trees now bathed in the vibrant autumnal colors.
Sure, ‘oooing and ahhhing’ over the change of leaves during a scenic cruise is a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. But the real thrill lies in trekking the Mountain State’s hiking trails to reach that jaw-dropping scenic view.
Over the course of a few weekends, My Buckhannon stomped around in the already fallen leaves to some of the area’s finest hiking trails that led to those striking overlooks. While many West Virginians and visitors have checked out the views from the ever-popular Blackwater Falls State Park in Tucker County, we decided to dig for a few lesser-known panoramic treasures.
Here’s a look at two places you might not have thought of to go leaf peeping this fall and a third can’t-miss destination that’s pretty popular.
Kumbrabow State Forest
You don’t hear much about this thick forest that’s located on top of Rich Mountain in Huttonsville. But it’s a real gem.
There’s several trails in the 9,474-acre forest that lead to overlooks and viewpoints that range from easy to difficult.
Potato Hole Trail leads to a small observation tower with a breathtaking scenic viewpoint. The trail is roughly two miles to the overlook and starts off relatively easy with just a few small banks to conquer. Though a relatively short distance, the trail intensifies as you get closer to the end.
Nonetheless, by the time you reach the view, you’ll forget about your aching legs.
Located near Seneca Rocks and part of the North Fork Mountain Trail, the Chimney Top trail is quite strenuous despite being only a roughly six-mile trek to the overlook. Luckily, there’s multiple overlooks hikers can take in before reaching main attraction – a grand view of the valleys below.
The hike is definitely worth the sharp inclines and steep spots, but come prepared and don’t forget to bring water! For those seeking an overnight stay, the ridgeline has a few designated spots for backcountry campers.
Bickle Knob Observation Tower
Okay, we had to include this one, even though it’s pretty well-known. Although it’s not much of a hike, it sure offers a truly awesome view of the treetops and miles of the Monongahela National Forest. Just park in the parking area and walk up to the alarmingly high observation tower (trust us, the view is worth it.)
Also, in the same general area is Bear Heaven (or Bear Haven, as the locals call it). The rocky terrain offers stunning views of the Mon Forest and feels more like an obstacle-course-style adventure as you’re climbing and jumping off the rocks.
Wherever you opt to explore, start planning now. According to the West Virginia Division of Forestry, the best time to take in fall foliage is from late September through late October, depending on which part of the state you’re visiting.