Fall is a special time of year in wild and wonderful West Virginia. Stunning foliage and moderate temperatures attract natives, students and tourists alike to the great outdoors of the state. The Morgantown area has a nice variety of hiking trails that are accessible to anyone looking to spend some quality time in nature and get active.
Brett Hagerty is a Morgantown native and the Adventure WV program manager at WVU, who knows the ins and outs of the hiking scene in the area.
“Hiking is a classic outdoor experience. It is good for you to be active, change your environment and breathe fresh air,” he said.
Whether you are looking for a scenic and tranquil stroll through the forest or for a challenging adventure, Morgantown has the trail for you.
For those looking for a quick trip to see the fall foliage, the Coopers Rock Overlook is a perfect stop.
“The overlook is a classic. That’s a great view. The second week of October is the best time to see the foliage,” Hagerty said.
The Ravens Rock Trail is also at Coopers Rock State Forest and provides a similar view to that of the overlook with the addition of an approximately two mile hike.
“Snake Hill also has some trails where you can get out to an overlook and see some views. It is a wildlife management area that doesn't get maintained and managed as well as a state forest or park, and the trails aren’t labeled very well, so you have to feel comfortable in the outdoors if you're gonna go,” Hagerty said.
For those looking for a challenging day of hiking, Hagerty recommends doing a loop through the various trails at Coopers Rock.
“From the main parking area to the advanced ski trail down to the Henry Clay Furnace and then down Clay Run Trail, you can make it down to the lake. All those trails end up looping together. In the summer, it is a cool hike because you can jump in the lake right at the bottom.”
Additionally, Adventure WV is conducting backpacking trips for students interested in a greater challenge Sept. 25-26 and Oct. 7-9.
There are many trails in Morgantown that are accessible to students without personal transportation.
“The Core Arboretum is great, and there are also trails in Krepps Park, White Park and Manilla Park. You don't have to drive somewhere to go hiking,” Hagerty said.
Many students enjoy hiking to escape the stress of school.
Nick Summerlin, a recreation, parks and tourism student, said that his favorite trail in the area is the Virgin Hemlock Trail at Coopers Rock.
“I love seeing all the hemlock trees there, and I love wading in the stream that runs along it,” Summerlin said.
“I think it’s important to get outdoors because it helps people to decompress, especially with how busy school can get,” he said.
Hagerty’s advice for hikers this fall?
“Get used to doing a little bit of research before you go. There’s a lot of variety out there.”
For more information on hiking trails in Morgantown, visit https://diyoutdoors.wvu.edu/.