The Monongahela National Forest defines a large part of West Virginia. With 919,000 acres, 500 miles of trails, 23 campgrounds, the highest point in the state (Spruce Knob) and 90% of the trout fishing waters, the national forest offers abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation, nature viewing and scenic drives. Forest headquarters is in Elkins. The landscape is rugged with exposed rocks, bogs and thickets.
There are five federally designated wilderness areas in the forest: Otter Creek, Dolly Sods, Laurel Fork North, Laurel Fork South and Cranberry. The forest is also home to one National Recreation Area: Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks. Twelve rivers run through the forest and the headwaters of six major river systems are located here. There are 129 miles of warm-water fishing in the Monongahela and 576 miles of trout streams.
Many species of wildlife are sheltered here including 230 species of birds as well as nine federally endangered species. Fifty acres of rare plants live in the forest and 75 species of trees. There are ten wildlife management units located here.
Forest recreation ranges from simple hiking to backcountry treks to mountain climbing. The state's highest point, Spruce Knob, rises to 4,861 feet. Hunting, trapping, fishing and wildlife viewing are popular. Other recreation includes mountain biking, horseback riding, cross country skiing and whitewater rafting. A tour of Civil War sites is offered. In addition to campgrounds, cabins are available in the forest. There are three observation towers including Bickle Knob, Olson Tower on Backbone Mountain and Spruce Knob, where camping, fishing and hiking are available.
Monongahela National Forest covers 10 counties. The southern edge of the forest is located approximately 115 miles south of Charleston, WV and extends northeastwardly to the Maryland state line.