The Monongahela National Forest, a 900,000-acre paradise of trees, rolling hills and wetlands, offers the perfect weekend getaway less than five hours away. Enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational activities including mountain biking, fishing, hiking and back-country camping or simply de-stress and unplug from the real world for a little while.
Make your way out of the city and onto I-66 west until you reach the exit for I-81 south toward Roanoke, about 75 miles later. Then take the exit for US-48 west toward Strasburg; turn right at the light to stay on US-48 west. Continue on US-48 west until you enter West Virginia. Next, take the West Virginia 55 ramp to Moorefield/US-220. After a little more than a mile, turn left onto West Virginia 28 south, then turn right to stay on West Virginia 28 south. Stay on West Virginia 28 South for about 37 miles, then turn right onto US-250 north/west. After about nin miles turn left onto Route 250/4/Red Run Road. Continue onto Forest Road 235 for about six miles and the entrance to the forest will be on your left. Total trip and travel time is about 210 miles, 4.5 hours.
If you have time to kill along the way, take a detour and visit the Manassas National Battlefield Park, wander around the Museum of American Presidents in Strasburg or hop on a Potomac Eagle train and search for bald eagles in Moorefield. Popular destinations located within the expansive forest area include the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, Falls of Hills Creek and the Highland Scenic Highway.
Middle Mountain Cabins
10 State Road
Huttonsville, WV 24920
For an absolute rural experience, book a stay at the Middle Mountain Cabins. Each cabin features a kitchen with pots and pans, dishes and silverware, a fireplace, one full-size bed and two sets of bunk beds. While there is no running water in the cabin, there is an outside hand pump for drinking water. Outhouses are available on the premises as well. Guests are encouraged to bring bedding, coolers for food, lanterns, flashlights and other camping equipment.
Chestnut Ridge Country Inn
Dunmore, WV 24934
Price: from $115 per night
Chestnut Ridge Country Inn promises picturesque views of the Allegheny Mountains, comfy accommodations and country-style guestroom and guesthouse options. Each guestroom features a sitting area, private bathroom and individual temperature controls while the guesthouse accommodates four guests. Enjoy a delicious, full-service breakfast each morning throughout your stay, and feel free to ask for area tips from the amazing staff at this comfy country inn. Drop off the bags and hit the trails for an amazing day out in the woods.
Cranberry Mountain Nature Center
932 Nirth Fork Cherry Rd.
Richwood, WV 26261
Whether you’re staying in a cabin in the woods or making the trip to the forest from fancier accommodations, the whole family will enjoy the many interactive displays and programs about the Monongahela National Forest at Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. Check out the live snake display, or walk around the property and view the species of birds including the ruby-throated hummingbird, purple finch or the red crossbill flying through the forest. The center also provides tips for mountain biking and exploring the hiking and backpacking trails as well as a wildflower garden and picnic area.
309 Davis Ave.
Elkins, WV 26241
Located about 30 minutes away from the forest, CJ Maggie’s features traditional American fare including cheeseburgers, pizzas and salads as well as Tex-Mex foods such as fajitas, burritos and chimichangas. Open seven days a week, the restaurant also features a full-service bar and a separate lounge area. Expect fresh, high-quality ingredients and some of the best fare this side of Monongahela.
El Gran Sabor
413 Kerens Ave.
Elkins, WV 26241
Enjoy live music and the finest Latin American cuisine in West Virginia at El Gran Sabor. This awesome area favorite features the best of local and regional musicians — and the occasional well-known rock star— on Wednesday and Friday nights. The microphone is open to the audience on Thursday nights. Enjoy daily food and drink specials, no cover charge and an outdoor patio. El Gran Sabor also features authentic Venezuelan foods including cachapa, the restaurant’s most popular dish.
Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.