With the Cranberry wilderness at its heart, the potential Birthplace of Rivers National Monument offers an unparalleled outdoors experience for those with an eye for beauty and a sense of adventure. With nearly 100 miles of trails to explore, visitors can choose from traversing windswept ridgelines, following meandering rivers, or hiking into the primeval forests of Appalachia’s largest wilderness. The immense diversity and beauty of the Cranberry has garnered recent acclaim– Yahoo! Travel declared the Cranberry “One of America’s Top 5 Wilderness Spots” and Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine called the area the “Wildest Wilderness in the Southeast.”
Sportsmen have found a world-class experience in the Birthplace of Rivers for many decades. Anglers can patrol the waters of the Williams Rivers for trophy brown trout, or hike to pristine streams in pursuit of mountain brook trout. With six trout-heavy watersheds located within its potential boundaries, the potential monument is perhaps the most popular fishing destination in the Mountain State. Fly-fishing author David Grossman recently wrote that in the Cranberry, “the fishing can be just as wild as the setting.” The time-honored tradition of Appalachian hunting lives on in the Birthplace of Rivers as well, where hunters can find healthy populations of bear, deer, turkey, and most other West Virginia game species. Many of the areas under consideration for monument designation are managed for quality hunting and fishing resources by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. This would not change under a U.S. Forest Service national monument, and this region would continue to provide high quality outdoor experiences for current and future generations of West Virginia hunters and anglers.
Adjacent to the Cranberry Wilderness lies some of the best mountain biking in the East. Tea Creek Mountain provides miles of exhilarating downhill rides interspersed with leg-burning climbs and just enough scenic flat land to recover in between. Outdoors Travels has given Tea Creek a prestigious five-out-of-five stars for the quality of its trails. Kennison Mountain, in the Cranberry Backcountry, is yet another of the most popular cycling destinations in West Virginia. The trails in this area are technically difficult, requiring a high level of skill as well as a desire endure plenty of steep inclines.
For the less adventurous, the Birthplace of Rivers area offers plenty of recreational opportunities, which allow visitors to take in scenic views, or get up close and personal with unique natural wonders. Just off the Highland Scenic Highway, several short interpretive trails offer tours through dense red spruce thickets and vistas of the Williams River Valley. Cranberry Glades is one of the most unique — and most accessible — features of the Monongahela National Forest. From a 1/2 mile boardwalk, casual naturalists can enter the heart of this rare Arctic bog and see many rare pants and migratory birds. Honeycomb Rocks, an extremely rare geologic formation is also easily accessible from the Scenic Highway.
Continued Access: A Priority for All
National Monument designation would grant West Virginians a special opportunity to preserve the landscape of the Birthplace of Rivers area for the enjoyment of future generations. Part of that future enjoyment means continued access to the traditional activities which local people have participated in for centuries. Hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering are storied uses of this extraordinary landscape, and remain popular traditions passed down on the Mountain State’s treasured public lands. Ensuring access for these activities is vital to potential monument designation, and stakeholders are pursuing a consensus-based solution, which would allow the Forest Service to continue managing the national monument in a manner which closely resembles the way the landscape is managed today. In fact, all currently-permitted forms of recreation would be unaffected by potential monument designation for the Birthplace of Rivers. As the collaborative process continues, user groups and other stakeholders will work together to define a recommended management scheme which adequately preserves West Virginians’ rights to enjoy a broad number of uses on public lands. The advocacy of Trout Unlimited and the International Mountain Bicycling Association provides a glimpse of how the collaborative process has worked to craft a proposal which protects continued access for all West Virginians.
The Collaborative Spirit: See how Trout Unlimited and the International Mountain Bicycling Association have aimed to protect access through their involvement in the Birthplace of Rivers collaborative process.
Trail Maps: Explore the Birthplace of Rivers Area
Thanks to the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, maps of the vast backcountry and special features included in the potential Birthplace of Rivers National Monument are available online for quick and easy viewing. Visit the links below to plan your next adventure in the Birthplace of Rivers area.