Coopers Rock State Forest - Hiking

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Summary

With everything from creeks and cliffs to rock formations and boulders, West Virginia’s largest state forest has a very diverse trail system that hikers of all levels will love to explore.

Written by

Ashley Halligan

Distance

50.0 miles

There are 21 trails and more than 50 miles. Most of Coopers Rock's trails are between 1 and 3 miles, although there are a handful of trails as short as 0.3 miles and as long as 4.5 miles. Several of the trails are accessible from other trails, so you can easily shorten or lengthen your hike.

Destination Distance From Downtown

133.1 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

Coopers Rock State Forest has more than 50 miles of trails that range from leisurely strolls along streams to overlooks that require a strenuous uphill hike.

Time To Complete

1 hours

Depending on which trail(s) you get on, plan to spend anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours hiking. With so many trails, you'll have plenty of options.

Seasonality

All Seasons

Coopers Rock State Forest has something to offer year-round. In the summer, the beautiful rhododendron and mountain laurel are in bloom, and in the winter, there are trails for cross-country skiing.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Dogs are welcome in WV State Parks on leash.

Fees Permits

No

Coopers Rock is free to visit. The only fees are associated with camping, which is $26 per night, including electricity.

Review

Intro

Coopers Rock State Forest is West Virginia’s largest state forest, and has more than 50 miles of hiking, biking, and skiing trails across almost 13,000 acres of land. It’s a very well-maintained park that is just 12 miles east of Morgantown. Named after a fugitive who sought refuge in what is now the park’s overlook, Cooper Rock State Forest has a history as rich as its soil. The Civilian Conservation Corps built several structures during the Great Depression that are still in the park today, including picnic areas and furnaces. Eleven of these structures are registered in the National Register of Historic Places. West Virginia State Parks has also designated some sections of the park as publicly owned land for forestry research, timber management, and watershed and wildlife protection. Coopers Rock’s views showcase mountains that are more than 1 billion years old.

What Makes It Great

With everything from creeks and cliffs to rock formations and boulders, the trail system is very diverse, and hikers of all levels will love exploring. There is no shortage of scenery, whether it’s from one of Coopers Rock’s many overlooks or from the creek-lined valley floors. Beyond that, the park’s trail guide is very comprehensive, offering distances, descriptions, and average times to complete trails.

The Ravens Rock Trail is one of Coopers Rock’s most popular trails. It’s a moderate, somewhat challenging uphill hike, but is only 1.5 miles, and you will be rewarded with views of the Cheat River Canyon. If history, scenery, and a solid hike are your cup of tea, the steep, 2.6-mile Mont Chateau Trail has a moderate difficulty rating, and leads to both Cheat Lake and the old Mont Chateau Lodge. The lodge has housed the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey since the 1970s, and has a small geology museum onsite. Despite its moderate difficulty, this is actually a great family hike, where parents and kids can enjoy incredible views and geology lessons together.

Who is Going to Love It

Because of Coopers Rock’s wide range of scenery and trail options, there is quite literally something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for the rhododendron and mountain laurel blossoms that peak in early summer, to appreciate a stroll in the forest, find satisfaction in tackling a strenuous uphill hike, or want mountaintop views in every direction, Coopers Rock has plenty for you to explore.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Finding Coopers Rock State Forest is easy. From I-68, take Exit 15 toward Coopers Rock Road. If you’re heading east, you’ll turn right onto Coopers Rock Road. If you’re heading west, you’ll turn left. Follow the road directly into Coopers Rock State Forest.

Hunting is allowed in the forest, so West Virginia State Parks and Division of Forestry encourages hikers to wear bright orange during hunting season. Contact the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for more information.

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Location

Coopers Rock State Forest

39.656662, -79.787134

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