The art of planning a mountain vacation often begins with lofty inspirations of spectacular sunsets, pristine nature, and cozy cabins. Where expectations can be exceeded. A place that will truly take you away from the realities of life yet bring friends and family closer.
That place is West Virginia’s best kept secret. Tucker County, West Virginia is located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and shares its northern border with the state of Maryland. Outdoor enthusiasts have been coming for decades to hike places like Dolly Sods Wilderness, ski at one of Canaan Valley’s three ski resorts, or fish for trout in cool mountain river waters. As decades have passed, the county of 7,500 people and one stop light has blossomed into a four season mountain destination.
What were once booming lumber and coal mining towns 100 years ago, have now been transformed by entrepreneurs and a local community that are ecstatic about where they live and what they do. Thomas, WV was founded on the back of the coal industry and finds its “downtown” brick buildings on the national historic registry of buildings. Only 2 miles down the road is Davis, WV, a former lumber town with a population of 650, which ironically is almost the exact same population of Thomas. These are true mountain towns where everyone knows each other. Waving from our car or porch 50 times a day are a part of everyday life. Visitors are met with the same kindness, so bring that smile and a friendly wave to our neck of the woods.
Thomas and Davis are now both lively mountain towns providing distinct personalities that seem to fit darn near everyone. Thomas is known for outstanding live music almost every day of the week and a resident arts community full of contemporary artists and their galleries. Looking for national music acts on the down low or free afternoon shows? The Purple Fiddle is your spot. The art gallery count is now up to six in Thomas and there is no end in sight. Add in unique stores, antique shopping, a classy coffee shop that will impress, and Mountain State Brewing, and you have yourself a mountain town full of life.
The town of Davis, West Virginia sits on the banks of the Blackwater River and is known as the gateway to outdoor recreation. Over 100 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails to the Canaan Backcountry, Blackwater Falls State Park and Little Canaan Wildlife Area are found on the edge of town. Trout fishing in the Blackwater River can be had while waiting for a pizza from Siriannis Café. Davis is also home to the vast majority of restaurants, no franchises here, and award winning craft beers from Stumptown Ales.
Vast wilderness of public lands cover over 50 percent of the entire region. Tucker County is home to State Parks, National Forest, Federal Wildlife Refuge, and designated US Forest Service Wilderness Areas. Dolly Sods Wilderness and Blackwater Falls State Park are the most notable natural attractions. Dolly Sods is one of the highest plateaus east of the Mississippi River at 4,200 feet above sea level. Flora growing throughout the sods is more commonly found in Canadian forests. Blackwater Falls is a towering 62 foot tall waterfall with boardwalk access into West Virginia’s most visited state park.
River trips by canoe and kayak are extremely popular on the Cheat River Trail from Parsons, West Virginia to Saint George. Designated parking with take-out and put-ins along the Cheat River makes easy access for fishermen and boaters alike. Head to Blackwater Outdoor Adventures for guided whitewater trips down the Cheat Narrows, boat rentals, and shuttle service. The Allegheny Highlands Rail Trail is another favorite of cyclists looking for that mountain experience.
Where to stay? The possibilities are endless with seven realty offices offering everything from cozy cabins for two to luxury homes with indoor pools. Classic B&B’s serve up the country experience while Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls State Parks each have grand lodges with full amenities. The time is now. Check off Tucker County from the bucket list you never knew you had.