Monongahela National Forest: High Falls Trail to High Falls on Shavers Fork Cheat River, Elkins, West Virginia
Despite its generic name, the High Falls of Cheat is known as one of Monongahela's more distinctive waterfalls. As less than 20 feet in height, the falls isn't very tall - but its signature feature is its width, stretching across a 100-foot wide cliff. The enormous pool and swimming hole denoting the base of High Falls is a welcome sight on a warm summer day. A scenic trail leads to the falls across Shavers Mountain from the West Fork Glady Fork valley. High Falls is unusual in that it is one of the longest waterfall hikes in Monongahela, yet it is also easily accessible by a scenic tourist train ride from Elkins. The Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad Company runs a seasonal track through the Tygart Valley and up the remote gorge of the Shavers Fork Cheat River, otherwise accessible only by foot. The track runs directly past High Falls, so during the summer, don't be surprised to find company from people who reached the falls by train. On the other hand, you're likely to have the hike and falls all to yourself in the cold winter months, especially if you choose to visit after a foot of fresh snow has fallen, like I did. This hike occurred on Monday, February 1st, 2021. My plan was to simply hike the High Falls Trail out and back from the trailhead along FS 44.
Monongahela National Forest (Laurel Fork North Wilderness): Laurel River Trail to Stone Camp Run Junction, Elkins, West Virginia
The Laurel Fork Wilderness is one of the least-travelled areas in Monongahela National Forest. The wilderness spans the length of the Laurel Fork of the Cheat River, an impressive waterway that winds through a remote area of the mountains east of the unincorporated community of Glady. You won't find any spectacular vistas or towering cascades here, but what you will find is a pristine river and a lovely (albeit sometimes faint) trail where solitude is guaranteed. The Laurel Fork Wilderness has been split into two halves by CR 40/FR 423, which crosses Laurel Fork at the Laurel Fork Campground. The report below describes an exploratory foray into the Laurel Fork North Wilderness. This hike occurred on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021. Starting at the campground, I traced the Laurel River Trail downstream through the broadening Laurel Fork valley to a junction with the Stone Camp Run Trail, and I then returned the same way.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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