Monongahela National Forest gives way to some of the best West Virginia bird watching in the state. Located in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, Monongahela National Forest boasts an abundance of plants and wildlife, including gorgeous birds of all shapes and sizes that live, breed, and migrate across the area.
Scroll down to find the best West Virginia bird watching areas in Monongahela National Forest.
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Location: Route 32 south of Davis, Tucker County
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge is home to a unique landscape of wetlands and uplands amongst the Allegheny Mountains. Here, visitors can spot flycatchers, raptors, Nashville warblers, and field birds. Other animals viewers may come across include black bears, beavers, raccoons, whitetail deer, and fox. The refuge boasts numerous trails and roads of varying lengths where viewers will find these amazing creatures.
Dolly Sods Wilderness
Location: Off Route 28, west of Petersburg Grant/Tucker Counties
Encompassing over 17,000 acres of diverse landscapes like bogs and heaths, Dolly Sods Wilderness is home to many animals. The area ranges from 2,500 to over 4,700 feet in elevation where high-elevation warblers roam. Bird watchers will also discover migrating raptors and thrushes. The many trails and hikes in the area make for plenty of opportunities to explore and locate diverse wildlife local to the area.
Smoke Hole Recreation Area
Location: Off Route 28, 7 miles south of Petersburg
Famous for its caves and mythology of the term “Smoke Hole”, Smoke Hole Canyon provides a distinct outdoor experience. The rugged landscape makes way for gorgeous vistas and plenty of opportunities to spot birds resting and flying overhead. Birds well-known to the area include bald eagles, field birds, osprey, sandpipers, and kingfishers. The 24-mile North Fork Mountain Trail boasts breathtaking views of the area.
Blackwater Falls State Park
Location: Route 32, Davis
This picturesque destination is located just west of Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Well-known for its cascading waterfall, the Blackwater Falls State Park is a regular spot for woodcock, vireos, thrushes, and northern warblers. The area’s many hiking trails provide visitors to roam the area and get a closer view of the wildlife.
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
Location: Routes 150 & 55, west of Marlinton, Pocahontas County
Nestled along the South Fork Cranberry River, Cranberry Glades Botanical Area preserves a unique landscape. Covered by four bogs, the area is full of unusual plant life including insect-eating plants. Spreading across 750 acres, these bogs are home to flycatchers and northern warblers, red-tailed hawks, wild turkey, eastern towhee, blackbirds, and common redpoll. Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is located in the southwest portion of Monongahela National Forest.
Fernow Experimental Forest
Location: Off Route 219, Parsons, Tucker County
For over 80 years, scientists have used the Fernow Experimental Forest to address biological issues that affect the many forests and biodiversity of West Virginia. Settled along the central Appalachians, many birds have been viewed or live within the forest. Some of those birds include thrushes, wood warblers, mourning warblers, and golden-winged warblers. Fernow Experimental Forest is located west of Canaan Valley State Park.
Guadineer Scenic Area
Location: Route 250 near Cheat Bridge, Randolph County
Located in the Cheat Mountain Range atop Shavers Mountain, the Guadineer Scenic Area is 140 acres of hardwood forest. The area is home to many breeding birds including solitary vireos, dark-eyed juncos, golden-crowned kinglets, and magnolia warblers. The area has two trails, Alleghany Trail #701 and the Gaudineer Interpretive Trail, offering scenic views of the area.
Big Run Bog
Location: Off Route 219, 5 miles north of Parsons
Big Run Bog features a litany of rare plants and animals. The area covers 731 acres across Monongahela National Forest. The area features birds like waterfowl, flycatchers, and many northern species birds.
Location: U.S. Forest Service Road 92 south from Route 250, near Cheat Bridge
The Mower Tract encompasses 40,000 acres on top of Cheat Mountain. The area has come across many environmental issues because of non-native vegetation, and severe drainage and erosion issues. However, the area is also known for its recreational opportunities and that includes birding. The area typically sees sparrows, various raptors, northern warblers, field birds, and sparrows.
Harman’s Luxury Log Cabins
Location: 10042 N Fork Hwy, Cabins, WV 26855
Bird watching is abundant at Harman’s Luxury Log Cabins. Guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of West Virginia’s wilderness from the outdoor deck of their West Virginia log cabin rental. Located along the North Fork River in Hopeville Canyon, Harman’s is a birder’s paradise. Guests may see eagles swooping below to the North Fork River or other birds like cardinals and bluebirds chirping and soaring above the cabins. The many trails across the property also provide extra opportunities to spot birds.
North Fork Valley Canopy Tours
Location: 141 Nelson Gap Road, Circleville, WV
Get a bird’s-eye view for your next bird watching exploration when you take a North Fork Valley Canopy Tour. This guided zip line experience is three-and-a-half hours long and provides participants with ample time to appreciate the lush biodiversity of West Virginia, including birds. The tour includes 12 zip lines and 3 sky bridges with heights up to 80 feet above the forest floor.
Find out more about West Virginia birding for birding tips and information.