Make your weekend into a micro-vacation with these short itineraries. Each destination is located just a few hours’ drive from Morgantown, giving you more than enough time to escape into the woods and make it back for work on Monday.

Canaan Valley

Though settlers named this upland valley for the Old Testament land of milk and honey, don’t call it KAY-nuhn. Locals say kuh-NAYN. Pronunciation particulars aside, outdoorsy types will have to agree this largely undisturbed wilderness is the Promised Land.

photo by Elizabeth Ford

Blackwater Falls State Park

The main attraction here is the 57-foot cascade, colored an amber red thanks to acid from hemlock and red spruce needles. But Blackwater Falls also offers miles of scenic hiking and biking trails and fishing and boating on Pendleton Lake.

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1994, this 16,550-acre refuge is home to nearly 600 species of plants and 300 different animals, some usually found as far north as Maine and Canada, thanks to the Allegheny Mountains’ cool, moist climate.

Purple Fiddle

photo by Elizabeth Ford

If the rain sends you indoors or you just want a night out, head into tiny, charming Thomas, where you’ll find an eclectic blend of shops and restaurants. But everybody’s favorite is The Purple Fiddle, which offers live music most Thursday through Sunday nights.

 

Pocahontas County

Once the capital of the state’s timber industry, Pocahontas County now offers some of the most idyllic woods in the state—thanks to the creation of the Monongahela National Forest. You’ll know you’re getting close once the service bars start dropping off your phone.

photo by Nikki Bowman

Greenbrier River Trail

With 78 miles of easy terrain for hiking, biking, or horseback riding, you can do the whole length—or set up basecamp at a B&B, cabin, or state park campsite along the way, and tackle the trail one section at a time.

photo by Carla Witt Ford

Cass Scenic Railroad

See the past in action as antique steam-powered locomotives push passengers along the same rail lines once used to haul big trees from these hills. Spend the night in one of Cass’s renovated company houses—or a caboose.

Green Bank Observatory

The world’s largest radio telescope is a major tool in the study of black holes and faraway stars, as well as the search for extraterrestrial life.  Tours run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Labor Day.

Seneca Rocks

This jagged ridge of Tuscarora quartzite ranks right up there with the Capitol dome and the New River Gorge bridge on the list of iconic West Virginia landmarks. But Seneca Rocks isn’t just a pretty picture—the area contains some of the best high adventure anywhere in the state.

photo by Carla Witt Ford

NROCKS Outdoor Adventures
No rock climbing experience is necessary at this outdoor adventure park. Guests scale the crags using steel rungs, but fear not—everyone gets strapped into harnesses that are safely locked into guide lines. The park also offers lodging and zipline tours.

photo provided by WV Dept. of Commerce

Seneca Caverns

Journey deep into the Earth and marvel at the clamshells, fossilized coral, and other sea creatures
still trapped in the limestone of this 4.5 million-year-old cave. But dress appropriately—the cave remains 54 degrees year-round.

Sinks of Gandy

This popular spelunking destination runs three-quarters of a mile underground. You won’t see any road signs marking its location, but some internet sleuthing will help you find your way. The sinks are on private land—the owners don’t mind if you visit; just be respectful.

 

written by Zack Harold

 

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