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Backpacker Magazine – August 1998

West Virginia Mountain Hobnobbing

Birds and deer are your only companions on this stretch of the Allegheny Trail.

by: Mary Burnham

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QUICK TAKE: Allegheny Trail, WV

DRIVE TIME: Gaudineer Scenic Area is in eastern West Virginia, about 180 miles (31/2 hours) southwest of Washington, D.C., and 175 miles (31/2 hours) west of Richmond.

THE WAY: From I-81 in Virginia, exit onto US 250 at Staunton and head west into the Mountain State. Four miles after passing through the town of Durbin, turn right on Forest Road 27 and into Gaudineer Scenic Area. Trailhead parking is about 2 miles in at the interpretive sign.

TRAILS: The yellow-blazed Allegheny Trail (#701) runs for roughly 330 miles from southern West Virginia into Pennsylvania. For the trip mentioned here, follow the Allegheny for 10 miles from Gaudineer Scenic Area to High Falls Trail (#345), which you follow west for 2 miles for a spectacular view of the falls. Backtrack and continue east on High Falls Trail to the West Fork Trail (#312), a 25-mile, scenic rail-trail that will take you south along the West Fork of the Greenbrier River. Several connector options take you back to the Allegheny and Gaudineer.

ELEVATION: Ranges from 2,700 feet at High Falls to 4,309 feet on Gaudineer Knob.

CAN'T MISS: For a tour of Gaudineer Knob, where snow may linger into May and 300-year-old spruce tower 100 feet overhead, follow the gentle, 1-mile Gaudineer Scenic Area Loop Trail (#373).

CROWD CONTROL: Don't worry, there are no crowds. Wear something bright during hunting seasons, which run from late October to mid-December, and late April to late May.

PIT STOP: When you leave Gaudineer, you'll practically drive into Tom and Nancy Jones' place, The Last Frontier. The fare is American, the portions hearty, the view unparalleled.

WALK SOFTLY: Red blazes and yellow survey markers usually denote private property. Camp only on public land. Avoid grazing allotments.

MAPS AND GUIDES: A visitor's map to Monongahela National Forest and USGS 7.5-minute quads Beverly East, Wildell, and Durbin are available for $4 apiece (plus $3.50 handling per order) from: USDA Forest Service, Monongahela National Forest, 200 Sycamore St., Elkins, WV 26241-3962; (304) 636-1800. Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide ($12.95, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, P.O. Box 306, Charleston, WV 25321) is an indispensable resource.

MORE INFORMATION: Greenbrier Ranger District, Monongahela National Forest, Route 250, P.O. Box 67, Bartow, WV 24920; (304) 456-3335.

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Reader Rating: -


Aug 27, 2012

I concur the ALT is almost nonexistent in this area - I hiked up from the Beulah/High Falls trail and went south on top of the mnt. on the ALT looking for the Wildel Shelter. It was last Fall and the leaves were all down so that didn't help. I was able to find my way but I would use GPS for sure. I have been hiking on the West side of the Shavers Fork up on top of Cheat Mnt. Talk about unmarked trails - I am going to head back out this winter when its not so thick. If you look close you will find all kinds of stuff out there from the logging and mining days. Very cool place.

Todd Hansen
Jul 15, 2011

The Allegheny Trail (ALT) from Gaudineer Knob north to the junction with High Falls of the Cheat Trail was hard to follow in spots and apparently rarely used but doable in May 2011. The Allegheny Trail from Beulah to High Falls is well blazed and maintained. The West Virginia Scenic Trails Association person for this stretch of the ALT said they're going to get a volunteer work party together and brush and log out this stretch of the ALT north of south of the Johns Camp Run Shelter.


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