Hiking Raven Rock at the Peak of Its Beauty

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s known to most Morgantown locals but also attracts those out of the area throughout the year. Not only is it attractive that you can set up a campsite less than a mile away from the trailhead, the entire hike down the Ravens Rock trail is beautiful – especially in the first few weeks of fall.

The trail opens off the access road that takes picnickers and sightseers to the picturesque overlook – the one in all of the Parks and Recreation pamphlets. But if those brochures and tourism put a picture of the view at Ravens Rock, I guarantee you a lot more hikers would be hitting the trail. That’s not to say it’s not popular, it is, but there’s not a better sight of the Cheat River basin in the area.

If you decide to just walk out, take in the view and walk back, it will take you about an hour and a half to make the 2.96-mile roundtrip. It’s smart to wear boots or shoes with good ankle support due to the rocky terrain – especially if it rained a day or two before you hit the trail.

Top photo: The Raven Rock track from beginning to end. The green arrow notes the beginning of the trail, while the label “Raven Rock” notes the overlook. Above photo: The graph and numerical breakdown of the hike.

Easily the best time of the day to make the trip is just before sunrise or just before sunset, but due to Coopers Rock State Forest closing shortly after sundown, it’s best to save those times for a day you’re camping. Should you make it out in the early morning in the fall, you’ll see pockets of bright orange and yellow and spires of pine needles poking through the fog resting above the Cheat River, a sight that is hard to beat unless you’re lucky to live high in the hills of the Mountain State.

These views are rarely available, but the full effect is overwhelming from roughly 1,900 feet above sea level. The highest elevation in the trail is the trailhead, sitting at 2,200 feet above sea level meaning the hike to the overlook is relatively easy but the return trip can be a bit challenging.

A wide view of the Cheat River Basin from Raven Rock.

Should you find yourself full of energy looking for more to do after hiking the Ravens Rock trail, you can veer onto the McCollum Trail (named after the McCollum Campground it starts at) that intersects with the Nature and Roadside Trails. Plenty of other trails run through the state park, too, including the well-known Henry Clay Iron Furnace Trail that “takes you on a trip back in time” according to the official West Virginia State Park website. In total, there are 50 miles of trails that snake the forest. Bikers, cross country skiers, geocachers and hunters, can take advantage of the vast forest and trail system as well.

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