Bowden Fish Hatchery
Bowden annually produces 160,000 pounds of brook, brown, rainbow and golden rainbow trout, which are stocked into West Virginia waters. Visitors can tour the hatchery building, where up to 2 million trout eggs can be incubated and the concrete “raceways” where larger fish are held.
Directions: From Elkins, travel east on U.S. 33 for three miles. Turn left off U.S. 33 onto Old Route 33 (U.S. 33-8) and proceed five miles to the hatchery on the right. Closest town: Elkins
Fernow Experimental Forest
Fernow’s staff provides guided tours in which visitors can view neotropical migratory songbirds as well as a diverse population of amphibians and reptiles. White-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, squirrels and black bear also are common to the area. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: At the junction of U.S. 219 and W.Va. 72 in Parsons, follow U.S. 219 north 0.2 mile just over the bridge to the sign for Otter Creek Wilderness. Turn right and then make an immediate left onto an unmarked road. Proceed 1.3 miles to the fork and bear left; there will be a sign for Fernow Forest. Travel one mile to the fork and bear right at the sign for Forest Road 701. Go 0.2 mile to the entrance. Closest town: Parsons
Blackwater Falls State Park
The diverse habitats here – northern coniferous forest, northern hardwood forest and cranberry bogs – support numerous wildlife species including white-tailed deer; black bears; striped skunks; gray and red foxes; muskrats; beavers; woodchucks; eastern cottontails; and several species of squirrels, voles and deer mice. Songbird viewing also is excellent in the park.
Directions: From Davis, travel north on W.Va. 32. Turn left off W.Va. 32 onto County Route 29. Proceed south on C.R. 29 for one mile to the park entrance. Closest town: Davis
Canaan Valley Resort State Park
As the largest wetland complex in West Virginia and the highest valley of its size east of the Rockies, Canaan Valley supports an incredible abundance of wildlife, including 288 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The most visible species here is the white-tailed deer. Less visible because they are more active in the evening, but just as fun to observe, is the semi-aquatic muskrat, which might be seen along the Abe Run Boardwalk and the Blackwater River Trail.
Directions: From Davis, travel south on W.Va. 32 for 13 miles. The park entrance is on the right. Closest town: Davis
The Allegheny Front Migration Observatory is located opposite the entrance to Red Creek Campground at Dolly Sods. Between mid-August and mid-October during the early morning, the bird-banding station is an excellent place to view migrating songbirds and hawks. In mid-September, the station is staffed and biologists are usually available to answer questions about the site’s bird netting and banding procedures. This area also is one of the best places in West Virginia to see black bears. This is a natural area with few facilities; some portions are open to hunting.
Directions: From Petersburg, travel north on W.Va. 42 about 12 miles to County Route 28-7 (Jordan Run Road/Hopeville Gap Road). Turn left onto C.R. 28-7 and travel south for 5.2 miles. Turn right onto Forest Road 75 and proceed for 4.7 miles. Closest town:
Owned and maintained by the West Virginia chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Greenland Gap is an ideal year-round setting for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and ruffed grouse. May 5-15 is usually the peak season for viewing migrating neotropical birds. During the fall, several migrating birds of prey might be seen from the trail that leads to the top of the cliffs. Common ravens and turkey vultures also nest here. This is a natural area with no facilities.
Directions: From Scherr, travel east on W.Va. 93 for about 500 feet. Turn right onto County Route 1 (Greenland Road). Keep left, cross the bridge and go about one mile to the town of Greenland. Turn right on C.R. 3-3 and travel 0.3 mile to the main entrance sign. The parking pullout and trail head are at the east end of the area. Closest town: Scherr
Potomac Eagle Train
This three-hour, narrated train ride from Romney along the South Branch of the Potomac River remains one of the best and most dependable places in the state to see bald eagles. The birds are present year-round, while nesting eagles can be seen from the train in May and June.
Directions: From the intersection of U.S. 50 and W.Va. 28 in Romney, travel north on W.Va. 28 for 1.4 miles to the Potomac Eagle Train. The station is on the left. Closest town: Romney
Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area
At almost 23,000 acres, Sleepy Creek’s scenic landscape consists primarily of Virginia pine-oak forest and oak-hickory forest. Wild turkeys are common in the more open wooded areas and white-tailed deer forage along the forest edge at dusk and dawn. Scan the lake for nesting ospreys. The area also is excellent for songbirds, including year-round residents Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice and northern mockingbirds. In the spring, several species of warblers breed here. This is a natural area with few facilities and a public hunting area.
Directions: Located about 11 miles west of Martinsburg: Near Inwood, take exit 5 off I-81 and travel west on W.Va. 51 about four miles. Turn left on W.Va. 45 and and go west about 2.5 miles. In Glengary, turn right onto County Route 7. Travel north on C.R. 7 to Shanghai (about five miles). In Shanghai, turn left onto C.R. 7-13 and proceed two miles to the wildlife management area. Closest town: Martinsburg.
Yankauer Nature Preserve
Owned by the Nature Conservancy and maintained by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, this preserve contains several sinkholes, oak forests, glades of red cedar and impressive bluffs overlooking the Potomac River. White-tailed deer, pileated woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, wild turkeys and box turtles are present year-round. In March, great horned owls nest in the preserve’s large oaks. In May and June, look for warblers in cedar thickets and scarlet tanagers in the Hike the South Trail in spring and early summer for wood thrushes and yellow-billed cuckoos.
Directions: From the four-way stop sign at the intersection of W.Va. 45 and W.Va. 480 in Shepherdstown, drive east toward Sharpsburg, Md. Turn left onto Shepherd Grade Road after 0.5 mile. Travel about 1.5 miles and turn left at the Y onto Scrabble Road (there is a stop sign at the Y but no road sign). About 1.5 miles farther, when a road intersects with Scrabble Road, stay to the right. After another 0.4 mile, stay on Scrabble Road as it turns left at another Y. Drive two more miles and turn right onto County Route 5-4 (Newton School Road). The Yankauer Preserve is a little less than 0.5 mile on the right. The entrance is marked by a sign at the parking area. Closest town:
Short Mountain Wildlife Management Area
In the spring and summer, many species of neotropical warblers and other songbirds fill the 8,000-acre woods. White-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse and many species of reptiles are also present, including West Virginia’s largest snake, the black rat snake. Along the North River, look for several species of amphibians. This is a natural area with no facilities and a public hunting area.
Directions: At the junction of U.S. 50 and County Route 7 (August-Rio Road) in Augusta, travel south on C.R.7 for seven miles. Turn left onto Park Road 801 at the Short Mountain sign. Follow the dirt-gravel P.R. 801 0.7 mile to the wildlife management entrance. Closest town: Augusta
Spring Run Trout Hatchery
This state-run hatchery presents two viewing opportunities: an outside pool, called a raceway; and the scenic and well-maintained Wild Trout Trail, a 100-yard nature trail that provides a glimpse into the beauty and diversity of a typical trout stream of the West Virginia Highlands. Spring Run raises golden rainbow trout, a color mutation of the rainbow. You might also see a mink along the stream banks. Scan the wires over the hatchery for belted kingfishers waiting for a quick meal. Occasionally, bald and golden eagles can be seen soaring above the rock cliffs.
Directions: South of Petersburg, turn left off U.S. 220 onto County Route 9 (South Mill Creek Road) and travel south on C.R. 9 for four miles to Dorcas. In Dorcas, turn left onto C.R. 9-2 (Spring Run Road) and proceed for two miles to the hatchery on the right. Closest town: Petersburg
Spruce Knob and Spruce Knob Lake
At 4,861 feet, Spruce Knob is the highest point in West Virginia. The area is habitat to white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, snowshoe hares, Appalachian cottontails and northern flying squirrels. At Spruce Knob Lake, Canada geese can be spotted between March and June and great blue herons are present from March to July. Red squirrels are common and several species of warblers nest here. Look for bluegills and trout in the lake during warmer months. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: To Spruce Knob Lake from Harman, take U.S. 33 west to County Route 29 (Whitmer Road) and turn left. Travel south on C.R. 29 for 8.3 miles to Whitmer. Continue south on Whitmer Road for another 10.3 miles and turn left onto Forest Road 1. Proceed southeast for 2.5 miles to Spruce Knob Lake. To get to Spruce Knob from the lake, continue southeast on F.R. 1 for 0.5 mile. Turn left onto F.R. 112 and proceed for nine miles. Turn left on F.R. 104 and travel two miles to Spruce Knob observation platform and Whispering Spruce Nature Trail. Closest town: Whitmer
Watoga State Park
Sheltered on three sides by the Monongahela National Forest and Calvin Price State Forest, this 10,000-acre park offers interpretive programs in the summer. Beavers can be spotted in the lake area in the spring, summer and fall. Look for beaver dams across streams or large, conical mounds of sticks and mud at the water’s edge. Wild turkeys are abundant in the woods along the river as you enter the park. At dusk and dawn, white-tailed deer graze in the clearings. In the spring, listen for the drumming of the wings of the male ruffed grouse. In addition, Watoga is one of the few areas in West Virginia that is habitat to the rarely seen mountain earth snake.
Directions: From Hillsboro, take U.S. 219 for 0.9 mile, then turn right onto County Route 27. Follow C.R. 27 for 2.3 miles to the park entrance. Closest town: Hillsboro
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
These acidic wetlands, which more closely resemble the climate of Canada than the Appalachians, are home to unique species of plants such as orchids and carnivorous plants. The bog forest is composed of red spruce, hemlock and yellow birch. From the wooden boardwalk, visitors can observe white-tailed deer, purple finch and northern waterthrush. Black bears have been spotted in the skunk cabbage along the boardwalk and beaver ponds are prevalent along the six-mile Cow Pasture Trail.
Directions: From Marlinton, travel south on U.S. 219. At Mill Point, turn right onto W.Va. 55 and travel west 6.4 miles to Cranberry Mountain Visitors Center on the left. Continue west on W.Va. 55 for 0.6 mile, then turn right onto Forest Road 102 and travel 1.4 miles to the botanical area parking. Closest town: Marlinton
Highland Scenic Highway
This 45-mile drive through the Monongahela National Forest’s mountainous terrain provides opportunity to see white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, hawks, ravens, gray and fox squirrels and woodchucks. Hikers in the nearby woods might encounter many songbirds, red and gray foxes, snowshoes hares, raccoons, beavers, minks, opossums, ruffed grouse and woodcocks. Black bears and bobcats also are present in this area, which is a migratory route of the golden eagle. This parkway is not maintained for winter travel; use extreme caution. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: From Mill Point at the junction of U.S. 219 and W.Va. 55, travel west on W.Va. 55 for 6.4 miles to Cranberry Mountain Visitors Center on the left. Turn right opposite the visitors center onto W.Va. 150, also known as Highland Scenic Highway. Drive W.Va. 150 north for 22 miles. Closest town: Richwood
Handley Wildlife Management Area
Handley, located in the Monongahela National Forest, is well-known for its population of white-tailed deer, turkeys and ruffed grouse. Other animals residing here include black bears, red and gray foxes, muskrats, raccoons, woodchucks and eastern cottontail rabbits. Look for beavers along the Williams River and around Big and Little Laurel Creeks. In the spring, wood ducks nest along the Williams River, and in the fall, American woodcock can be found in the bottomlands and shrubby field borders near the river. This is a public hunting area.
Directions: From Marlinton, travel north on U.S. 219 for 3.4 miles. Turn left onto W.Va. 17 and travel west 4.5 miles to a fork; continue straight for 1.6 miles and bear right at the next fork (there is a sign for Handley). Proceed one mile to the entrance. Closest town: Marlinton
Gaudineer Scenic Area
High atop Shavers Mountain in the Cheat Mountain range, Gaudineer Knob’s 300-year-old virgin red spruce-northern hardwoods forest supports a large and diverse population of birds, including magnolia warblers, solitary vireos, black-throated blue warblers, Blackburnian warblers, winter wrens, golden-crowned kinglets, black-capped chickadees, dark-eyed juncos and chestnut-sided warblers. Gaudineer also is an exceptional place for bird watchers to find four species of brown-backed thrushes — hermit, Swainson’s, wood thrush and veery — all premier singers, between late May and early July.
Directions: From the intersection of U.S. 250/92 and U.S. 219 in Huttonsville, travel south on U.S. 250/92 for 12.6 miles. Turn left onto Forest Road 27. Travel north on F.R. 27 for 2.5 miles. The parking area is on the right. Closest town: Durbin