Take a scenic drive along Highland Scenic Highway in Monongahela and make a pit stop for any – or all – of these short classic hikes.
Tucked away in a quiet corner of West Virginia and shouldered to the east by the Appalachian Mountains, Highland Scenic Highway offers a relaxing – and equally stunning – drive alongside some of the state’s highest peaks. Situated above the Cranberry Glades, the area is one of only five boreal-type bogs found in the region and resembles many Canadian Bogs. Nearby peaks are covered with massive red spruce and mixed deciduous forest, and the selection of summer wildflowers and edible berries is amazing. Whether you’re visiting Snowshoe or just passing through, these are 5 of the best short hikes along Highland Scenic Highway in Monongahela National Forest.
If driving north beginning at Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, the first two hikes you should stop for are the Cranberry Glades Overlook and the Black Mountain Fire Interpretive Trail. Overlooking the glades from a unique perspective, the area was once a tundra thought to be over 12,000 years old. The wetlands are now laden with native red spruce and underlain by nearly 10 feet of peat moss, according to this source. The latter hike begins at the Big Spruce Overlook, and waysides along the trail note the historic logging efforts that helped shape the area into what it is now. Both hikes are just moments apart.
Further up the road, consider a quick stop at Honeycomb Rocks to see rare and unique boxwork rock formations, or continue on to Tea Creek to enjoy a relaxing hike to an overlook of a wetland area and beaver dam. Of course, if you’re up for a slight challenge, the Red Spruce Knob trail leads to the highest peak along the roadway and the site of a former fire tower. Though removed in the late 60s, the trail offers unique rock formations, endless summer wildflowers, and unique fungi. A viewpoint looks down into the valley, and its elevation makes it a desirable destination on a hot summer day.
If you’re planning one of these hikes, know that Highland Scenic Highway is open year-round, but is not plowed or treated during the winter. Many of the overlooks offer picnic tables, some are even shaded, and vault toilets are available at others. Cell reception is limited due to the proximity to the Green Bank Observatory, so download the map for offline use before you head out. Leashed and well-behaved pets are also allowed to join for any of these short hikes.