Highland Scenic Highway - West Virginia Scenic Drives
Welcome to the Highland Scenic Highway, a beautiful corridor through West Virginia's the Monongahela National Forest. This National Forest Scenic Byway extends 43 miles from Richwood to U.S. Route 219, seven miles north of Marlinton. The Highway follows State Route 39/55 for 21 miles from Richwood to the Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center. It then turns onto State Route 150 for the 22 mile Parkway section. The Highway traverses the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Highlands and Plateau, and rises from Richwood, elevation 2325 feet, to over 4,500 feet along the Parkway. While traveling the Highway, this guide will help you discover the exceptional opportunities for sightseeing and other activities within your National Forest.
Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center
Located at the junction of Rt. 150 and Rt. 39/55, the visitor center offers information about the national forest and other nearby attractions. An exhibit hall and audio visual programs provide interpretation of forest ecosystems and local history. Special programs and guided tours can be arranged.
Memorial Day through Labor Day: 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
January through April and November: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. and Sun.
May, Sept. and Oct.: 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fri., Sat. and Sun.
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
The largest area of bogs in West Virginia occurs within this 750 acre National Natural Landmark. Bogs are acidic wetlands typically found in Canada and the northern United States. To protect this fragile area, a half-mile long barrier-free boardwalk has been constructed for visitor use. Guided tours are conducted at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer months or can be specially arranged by contacting the Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center.
Falls of Hills Creek Scenic Area
The three waterfalls at the Falls of Hills Creek cascade over rock layers of sandstone and shale. A three-quarter mile trail provides access to the falls, including a paved, barrier-free trail to the first falls. This area is located six miles west of the Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center.
Highway 150 traverses the eastern boundary of the 35,864 acre Cranberry Wilderness. This special area is managed for its wilderness attributes of solitude and natural conditions. Special regulations are in effect that prohibit use of bicycles and other mechanical transport in the Wilderness. Minimal trail signing and a more primitive standard of trails offer a higher degree of challenge than in more developed areas.
Three campgrounds are located a short drive from the Highland Scenic Highway. Summit Lake Campground is two miles from State Route 39/55 near a beautiful 42 acre reservoir. Tea Creek Campground is one mile from the parkway portion of the Highway, and Day Run Campground is four miles away; both are located along the Williams River. All campgrounds have rustic campsites equipped with a picnic table, fire grate, and space for a tent or trailer. Drinking water and wvult toilet facilities are also provided. Each campground has a few sites large enough for recreational vehicles, although hook-ups are not available. A daily camping fee is charged. Campsites are available on a first-come/first-served basis. Campgrounds are open from mid-March to early December.
Camping is also permitted along the Williams River at designated numbered campsites outside of the campgrounds. Water and toilet facilities are not provided, and no fee is charged.
For those looking for a backpacking experience, there are a wvriety of camping opportunities. Some popular areas include the Cranberry Backcountry and the Tea Creek area. Minimum impact camping methods are encouraged, including a pack-it-in/pack-it-out trash policy. Visitors are asked to camp away from trails and streams.
Over 150 miles of trail are accessible from the Highway. Three barrier-free trails serve the Falls of Hills Creek, the Cranberry Glades, and the Big Spruce Overlook. In addition to hiking and backpacking, many trails are suitable for cross-country skiing. Mountain biking is permitted on most of the trails located outside of the Cranberry Wilderness. Some trails are suitable for horseback riding.
Fishing and Hunting
Trout fishing is popular in the Cherry, Cranbeny, and Williams Rivers. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stocks these streams with rainbow, brook, brown and golden trout. Summit Lake contains trout, bass, and panfish. Boats with electric trolling motors are allowed. Hunting is also a popular activity in the Monongahela National Forest in accordance with West Virginia state regulations.
Four scenic overlooks located on the Parkway portion of the Highway provide spectacular views of the Allegheny Highlands. On clear days, views of the surrounding ridges and wvlleys are a special attraction. Spring blossoms, summer wildflowers, and autumn leaves offer color throughout the seasons. Barrier-free picnic shelters and restrooms are provided at each overlook.
Gas, food, and lodging are available at Richwood, Webster Springs, and Marlinton. The Chambers of Commerce or Tourism Commissions at these locations will provide listings of businesses such as motels, restaurants, and service stations upon request. Emergency services are also available in these communities.
About the Highway . . .
The Highway is a paved two-lane road. Speed limits are 55 mph for the State Route 39/55 section and 45 mph for the Parkway section. Commercial truck traffic is not allowed on the Parkway. The Parkway is not maintained for winter travel, and is normally closed from early December to March.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication