Morgantown, WV

Morgantown, West Virginia sits in the northeastern part of the state between interstates 79 and 68.

While this lively community of just under 30,000 is probably best known as the home of the West Virginia Mountaineers Big East football squad, its potential for outdoor recreation is not to be overlooked. Situated along the wide and winding Monongahela River, Morgantown provides several access points to whitewater of varying classes. To find some of the area’s best whitewater options, head southeast of town toward the Cheat Canyon or the Cheat Narrows. For hiking, biking, and climbing opportunities visit the 12,000-acre Coopers Rock State Park.

Get Outside in Morgantown!

Top 10 Morgantown Adventures
  1. Mountain biking at Coopers Rock State Forest. Located 12 miles east of Morgantown, the 12,713 acre Coopers Rock State Forest is the largest state forest in the state of West Virginia, and it offers ample opportunity for mountain bikers hoping to find a trail. The forest is bisected by Interstate 68. The more biker-friendly portion is the section south of the interstate. The trails here are scenic and consist of a fairly even mix of rocky climbs and thrilling descents. For technical riding, head toward the historic Henry Clay Iron Furnace area. Open in map.
  2. Kayak the Cheat River through the Cheat Canyon. One of West Virginia’s most cherished natural wonders, the Cheat River Canyon snakes through the western edge of the Allegheny Mountains for 13 miles from Albright to the Jenkinsburg Bridge. Within its 13 miles course, the canyon houses more than 30 rapids, ranging from class III to IV. With names like Big Nasty, Tear Drop, and Fossil Falls, these rapids form one of the best stretches of white water in the East. The ideal season for this paddle is spring, and the put-in is 1 mile north of Albright on a paddler’s easement owned by the Friends of the Cheat inside Teter’s Campground. Take-out at the Jenkinsburg Bridge once you reach the confluence of the Cheat and the Big Sandy. Open in map.
  3. Mountain biking in White Park. For an easily accessible and lesser known mountain biking experience head to White Park, situated along the banks of the Coburn Creek Reservoir right in downtown Morgantown. Here you’ll find a large network of short trails that connect to form longer routes. The trails here are meticulously maintained by a committed community of local riders and offer a fast, flowing experience, suitable for novices and intermediate level riders. There are several gap jumps for those looking to test their skills, but these features can be avoided if you prefer. Open in map.
  4. Flatwater canoeing or kayaking on the Monongahela River. Also known as the Mon River, the  gentle currents of this wide and winding waterway run directly through the heart of downtown Morgantown before continuing a 127 mile northward flow that culminates in Pittsburgh—at its confluence with the Allegheny—to form the formidable Ohio River. In Morgantown there are several access points for for urban paddlers. One of the best places to access the Mon River from Morgantown is the Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park. Open in map.
  5. Cross county skiing in the Snake Hill Wildlife Management area. With over 12 miles of well maintained and meticulously marked trails and roads, the Snake Hill WMA is a great destination for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level cross country skiers. Because of the area’s remote location—which is still only 30 minutes from town—it receives more snow and holds snow longer than nearby Morgantown. There are as many as 15 trails with names like Big Dipper, Sidewinder, Big Field, Big Hill, Little Hoop, and Bypass. For more details and trail descriptions click here. Open in map.
  6. Backpacking in the Otter Creek Wilderness. Located in the Cheat-Potomac ranger district of the Monongahela National Forest, the Otter Creek Wilderness sits in a scenic, bowl-shaped valley formed by its namesake Otter Creek between Shavers and McGowan Mountain. Within this designated wilderness area there are more than 40 miles of hiking trails with the Otter Creek trail being the longest at 11 miles. For a unique and exciting Otter Creek backpacking experience start at the Mylius trailhead and follow its course until you meet the Shaver’s Mountain trail. After summiting Shavers, you will connect with the Green Mountain trail. Follow this trail through the Otter Creek Wilderness until you reach the Otter Creek trail. There are several nice campsites near the intersection of these two trails. On day two you’ll traverse the Otter Creek Trail to its connection with the Mylius which will lead you back to the parking area. Make sure to take a detailed map as trails in this wilderness area are not denoted by blazes. Open in map.
  7. Paddle the Big Sandy from Rockville to the Jenkinsburg Bridge. This 5.8 mile stretch of the Big Sandy Creek is another testament to the epic whitewater that West Virginia is known for. With two waterfalls—Wonderfalls and Big Splat—and several technical class IV rapids, it’s an advanced stretch of water that requires serious experience and know-how. For many, the Big Sandy is considered the jewel of the Cheat River watershed—the largest undammed watershed east of the Mississippi—and its popularity is growing among whitewater enthusiasts nationwide. To access the Big Sandy use the newly constructed put-in parking lot near Rockville. To get there, turn under I68 at the Laurel Run and follow the signs. The take-out is located near the Jenkinsburg bridge near the Big Sandy’s confluence with the Cheat. Open in map.
  8. Rock climbing at Coopers Rock State Forest. In addition to mountain biking, Coopers Rock State Forest also boasts some of the best top roping and bouldering in the Eastern United States. Popular climbing spots at Coopers Rock include the Sunset Wall, Upper Rock City, Roadside Wall, and Tilted Tree. While these spots are well known and highly frequented, there are scores of other lesser known climbing routes ready for your exploration and discovery. One lesser known spot for top roping is the Rough Rocks area which features roughly ten separate climbs. To access Roadside, Sunset, Upper Rock City and Tilted tree, head to the climbers kiosk on the left side of the main parking area. For Rough Rocks access the small trail near the end of Henry Clay Iron Furnace Rd. Open in map.
  9. Camping, paddling, and fishing at the Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area. The campground at the Pleasant Creek WMA is situated near the southern portion of Tygart Lake and provides quick and easy water access. The WMA is less than an hour from Morgantown, making it a great spot to set up a base camp before exploring the area. Those hoping to get out and do some paddling will find great stillwater kayaking opportunities on the scenic, 390 acre Tygart Lake. Fishing opportunities also abound on Tygart—which harbors healthy populations of bass, muskie, crappie, walleye, perch, and northern pike—and the nearby Tygart Lake State Park offers hiking trails, lodging, and additional lake access. Open in map.
  10. Cycle, run, walk, or cross country ski on the Mon River rail-trail system. This rail to trail system is made up of three separate trails—the Mon River, Deckers Creek, and Caperton Trails. Collectively, these trails travel almost 50 miles and connect the counties of Preston, Marion, and Monogalia. The Caperton trail offers visitors and residents of Morgantown a pedestrian friendly urban experience, providing access to shops, restaurants, and watering holes like the Mountain State Brewing Company, while the relatively flat Mon River Trails meanders its way through riverside bottomland and field habitats. At a distance of 19 miles and an elevation gain of 1,000 feet, the Deckers Creek Trail is a little more strenuous and remote. The best way to access the Mon River Rail Trail system is via the Hazel Ruby McQuian Riverfront Park. Open in map.

In the Area

Explore Harrisonburg
  • Morgantown Brewing Company. Formerly known as Jilly’s Pub, the River Street Tavern is a local hangout owned by Brad and Heather Simmons. Their menu includes traditional favorites like wings, burgers, chicken fingers, and their famous Greek salad with blackened Mahi. With 13 beers on draft, it’s a great place to grab some post-adventure libations. Directions.
  • Mountain Creek Cabins at Coopers Rock Owned by Charlie and Collette Peron, this traditional Italian eatery and pizzeria has been a favorite with locals and seasonal residents for years. Menu items range from steamed lobster to homemade gnocchi and everything in between. Directions.
  • Mountain State Brewing Company Located 12 miles from downtown Ellijay in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way is one of the southeast's best kept secrets. It offers quick and easy access to 80 miles of single track mountain bike trails. It’s also a dog-friendly resort with available sleeping cabins, campsites, wifi, and home cooked meals, not to mention access to repair tools and basic bike parts as needed. Directions.

Native Knowledge

Local Lore
  • Coopers Rock State Forest is one of our family’s favorite areas to spend the day.  The varied terrain makes it a great place to take the kids rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, or just exploring the boulders and playing in the creeks.  In addition to that, it also offers more difficult opportunities when my husband and I are looking for a challenge.  With so much to explore, we never get bored at Coopers!
    Janelle Hershey
    Co-Owner of Cooper’s Rock Climbing Guides
  • One of my favorite things to do is ride my bicycle in Preston County, WV. Whether it's a technical mountain bike loop at Cooper's Rock or a road bike ride around Bruceton Mills, this is how I spend a lot of my days off. Of course with winter on the way XC Skiing at Cooper's Rock will be a good seasonal alternative.
    James Braswell
    Pathfinder outfitters
  • Just a few minutes out of town, Coopers Rock State Forest offers a wealth of year round outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, bouldering, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing all against the backdrop of the beautiful Cheat Canyon. While even more local, White Park is a lesser known gem great for mountain biking and shorter walks in the woods. There are also many great fishing opportunities in the area, including recovering populations of many species of fish in Cheat Lake and everything from Bluegill to Musky in the Monongahela River.
    Jason Walls
    Land Conservation Attorney and lifelong Morgantown resident

DID YOU KNOW?

Every June Morgantown hosts a downhill half marathon known as the Decker’s Creek Half with a cumulative elevation drop of 800 feet.

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