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Raven Rock – Coopers Rock State Forest, West Virginia

Coopers Rock State Forest, home to some of the most beautiful views in West Virginia, is a popular destination for hikers and sightseers alike – located just off I-68 not far from Morgantown, the park hosts thousands of visitors every year, so be prepared to share the vistas.

Upon arrival at the park, join the masses and head for the Coopers Rock Overlook – an absolutely gorgeous viewpoint that features a deep forested canyon, the Cheat River, and sandstone cliffs. The overlook is reached via a short 0.2 mile roundtrip, handicapped accessible, path that ends at a series of sandstone outcroppings high above the Cheat River Gorge – the overlook is enclosed by a beautiful, rustic log railing that decreases exposure and the risk of falling.

To get somewhat off the beaten track, make your way to the Raven Rock Trail – a 2.4 mile out and back hike that ends in another spectacular, although thankfully more secluded, view of the Cheat River and the canyon it formed.

Raven Rock Trail, a 2.4 mile roundtrip out and back hike, can be reached via a trailhead located along the park road or you can combine any number of trails to form a loop – we opted to hike from the Coopers Rock Overlook via the Roadside Trail and then back to form a 4.3 mile loop.

From the Raven Rock Trailhead, cross the gate and set out on the access road/trail – in just a little over 100 feet the red blazed Ravens Rock Trail veers off to the right, watch for the signed junction early in your hike.

The short and rocky path gradually descends a wooded hillside, covered with a sea of ferns, and occasionally paralleling the seasonal flow of Scotts Run Tributary, enroute to the rim of the Cheat River Gorge – be mindful of foot and hand placement along your hike, as timber rattlesnakes are common to the area.

After hiking almost a mile, at the approximately 0.9 mile mark, the trail begins a steep uphill climb – gaining nearly 120 feet in less than 300 yards.

At mile 1.2 you reach a massive rock outcrop, follow the short spur trail for a better look.

Continue hiking for another 0.2 miles and you will reach the amazing views of Raven Rock – the Cheat River once again winding its way through the gorge 1100 feet below.

Standing atop the lofty sandstone cliffs of Raven Rock, unencumbered by railings, you are free to explore as close to the edge as you feel comfortable – but definitely keep an eye on children as you explore the summit.

The summit is the perfect place for photos and a well deserved rest and/or snack – take in the jaw dropping views, looking for Coopers Rock on a clear day, for as long as you desire before retracing your steps to complete your hike.

With views like the ones at Coopers Rock State Forest, it’s easy to see why the Mountain State has earned the slogan “Almost Heaven”.

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