The Pheasant Mountain area is located west of Parsons, West Virginia, north of Rt. 219, and south of SR 21 and SR 17. This area is designated in the Monongahela National Forest Land Management Plan to be managed for high quality timber, a variety of forest views, disturbance-tolerant wildlife such as deer and grouse, and a motorized recreation environment. Motorized access to the area from the south is by FR 933, which is located 1.6 miles west of the Moore Station Road on Ft. 219. The main road is open year round, although spurs off this road may be gated. Motorized access from the north is by FR 937 off SR 21. Non-motorized access is by several trailheads.
In this area, you will find several maintained grassy openings. These were built especially for wildlife and are mowed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. These openings provide an area for the animals to feed and rear their young, while the surrounding forest provides nearby cover to hide in when they feel threatened and different sources of food. Apple trees and nut-bearing shrubs are often planted in the maintained openings to provide additional food sources for wildlife. Mowing takes place once a year, and sometimes areas are left unmowed for variety.
The openings created by clearcuts are temporary, but provide wildlife food in the form of stump sprouts and seedling trees, as well as berries and seeds from the various brambles, grasses, and other vegetation which grow in after the timber is removed. Eventually, the new trees will get too tall for the animals to eat and the brambles and grasses will get shaded by the trees and die out. Periodic timber harvest ensures that there is usually this kind of brushy habitat somewhere in the area for those wildlife species that need it.
Creatures that you may see include a variety of songbirds, grouse, turkey, chipmunks and squirrels, white-tailed deer, foxes, and black bears. The"frog pond" at the junction of Pheasant Mountain trail and FR 933E contains a lively frog population and many salamanders, and is used as a watering hole by many mammals.
Camping is permitted anywhere on National Forest land in this area When camping in undeveloped areas like Pheasant Mountain, we ask that you camp at least 200 ft from all streams, bury your body wastes, and pack out your garbage. Lightweight campstoves are encouraged rather than open campfires. Campstoves are more efficient cookers and prevent sterile soils and the chance of forest fires. Please leave a clean camp for those who will follow you.
There are two major trails in this area: the Shingletree Trail and the Pheasant Mountain Trail, and a short connecting trail: the Clover Trail. Older publications and maps may indicate several other trails, but they were dropped from the system or combined with the two major trails during Opportunity Area Analysis done in 1991. Traces of these old trails will still show on the ground, but they will not be signed or maintained. The three trails are good for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. ATVs are not permitted on National Forest lands. The trails are not built or maintained for the kind of environmental impacts ATVs can have. Loop trips can be made by using a combination of trails and forest roads. All trails are marked at intervals by plastic blue diamonds.
Shingletree Trail (FT 121)
Length: 4.5 miles
Average hiking time: 1.5 hours
This trail follows an old railroad grade for much of its length. The south trailhead is 0.7 miles west of the intersection of US 219 and the Moore Station Road (SR 219/10). There is parking for 4 or 5 cars off the highway at this trailhead. The north terminus is on SR 21 0.5 miles west of the intersection of SR 21 and SR 17. There is parking for 2 or 3 cars approximately 200 feet west of where the trail meets the road. This trail can also be accessed at a wildlife opening where FR 933 forks, approximately 1.1 miles north of US 219. Elevations along this trail range from 1760 ft to 2420 ft. It travels through a variety of forest types: rhododendron thickets, mixed hardwoods, and pines. Clearcuts of varying ages and wildlife openings occur along this trail.
Pheasant Mountain Trail (TR 120)
Length: 3.6 miles
Average hiking time: 1.25 hours
This trail was used as a firebreak during the days when fires ravaged the area. Its eastern terminus is on the Shingletree Trail approximately 1.4 miles south of SR 21. It runs mostly along the ridge tops for 3 miles, then crosses a stream and follows the side of a hill until it terminates on FR 137. Visitors can then follow FR 137, ford the Valley Fork of Clover Run, and end up at SR 23 0.5 miles south of SR 21. FR 137 is a gated road, and there is parking for 2-3 cars where it leaves Valley Fork Road. Elevation varies from 1820 ft to 2500 ft. This trail travels through primarily mixed hardwood timber. Several clearcuts made in 1990 provide open views across the Clover Run drainage toward Mt. Zion.
Clover Trail (TR 124)
Length: 2.0 miles
Average hiking time: 0.75 hours
The Clover trail leaves a roadside park on SR 21 and switchbacks up a ridge before connecting with the end of a skid trail. This skid trail travels through a new clearcut, then switches back to the right to reach the end of FR 937. By following the Forest Road, one can eventually come to a short skid trail that leads to the top of the ridge and connects with the Pheasant Mountain Trail. The elevation varies from 1720 ft to 2080 ft.
Off SR 17, west end of Pheasant Mountain trail off SR 27, the south end of FR 933 at US 219, the junction of FR 933 and 933A, or the end of FR 933A Best places for an overnight camp with horses are the north end of Clover trail and the west end of Pheasant Mountain trail. There is generally plenty of water nearby these two places. There may or may not be grass, depending on how many horse-campers have been there before you or how recently the area was mowed. It would be a good idea to bring your own feed - we suggest pellets or cubes. These are compact, easy to pack, and have less chance of spreading non-native weeds, insects, or fungus/disease vectors.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication