West Virginia's 6 Most Scenic Roads and Byways

Babcock State Park, West Virginia
VisionsofAmerica / Joe Sohm / Stockbyte / Getty

Coal Heritage Trail

The 98-mile route traverses four southern West Virginia counties in a region that commemorates the history and culture of the coal industry. Areas of interest include the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and the historic town of Bramwell. Byway also offers recreational opportunities, such as fishing on Bluestone Lake, hiking along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, or camping at Camp Creek State Forest. It crosses the Bluestone National Scenic River near Bramwell and provides access to the New River Gorge east of the town of Beckley.

Start and Endpoint: Byway runs from the West Virginia-Virginia border north along US 52, which turns into SR 16, then continues north to the town of Beckley at the junction of SR 16 and I-77.

Highland Scenic Highway

This 43-mile route in the Monongahela National Forest passes through river valleys and onto mountain ridges, offering scenic views of the Allegheny Highlands as well as opportunities for walks through mountain bogs and cranberry glades. Areas of interest include the 35,846-acre Cranberry Wilderness and the 750-acre Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, the largest area of bogs in West Virginia. The Monongahela National Forest offers opportunities for camping, hiking, and fishing.

Start and Endpoint: Byway runs from Richwood along SR 55 and then east on SR 150 until the route ends at the edge of the Monongahela National Forest, at the junction of SR 150 and US 219.

Historic National Road

America's first interstate highway, the National Road was built to link the people and cities along the Eastern seaboard to those on the frontiers west of the Allegheny Mountains. Authorized by Congress in 1806, construction of the road began in Cumberland, Maryland in 1811. The road reached Vandalia, then the Illinois state capitol, in 1839 and later was completed to the Illinois border at East St. Louis, opening a link to the water route of the Mississippi.

The West Virginia section of the byway passes through Wheeling, where visitors can see West Virginia Independence Hall; Wheeling's "Old Town," a neighborhood of Victorian homes overlooking the Ohio River; Capitol Music Hall, established in 1933 and home to Jamboree USA and the Wheeling Symphony; the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum, where the annual Marx Toy Convention is held; Wheeling Park and the Wheeling Heritage Trails; and the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, the first to cross the Ohio River; and the Elm Grove Stone Arch Bridge, the oldest extant bridge in the state.

Start and Endpoint: The east/west route runs from Baltimore, Maryland, to the Mississippi River at the Eads Bridge in East Saint Louis, Illinois. It crosses six states: Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The West Virginia section of the byway begins at the Pennsylvania-West Virginia state line on US 40 and continues into the city of Wheeling where it crosses the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. The byway continues onto Wheeling Island and ends across a bridge that leads to Bridgeport, Ohio. The West Virginia section of the entire 824-mile byway is 15.7 miles in length.

Midland Trail

The 117-mile byway is a gateway to world-class whitewater rafting, with access to the New and Gauley rivers. Several outfitters in the area offer Class V-VI rafting. The area is also a mecca for outdoor activities such as rock climbing on the face of the New River Gorge. The trail itself was a warpath for both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War and includes a number of historical sites. Other points of interest include the Greenbrier Hotel, a National Historic Landmark and West Virginia's only five-star resort, and the nearby Oakhurst Links, the oldest golf course in the country, built in 1884.

Start and Endpoint: Route runs from the town of White Sulphur Springs northwest on US 60 to just past Charleston.

Washington Heritage Trail

The 137-mile byway traverses a landscape rich in historic, natural and scenic resources, from forest covered mountains and valley farmland to historic towns and remains of bygone industries. Near the byway visitors will find Harper's Ferry National Historical Park, 21 National Register Historic Districts, and 126 National Register Historic Sites, many of which are associated with George Washington's family. A number of live history programs, including artillery demonstrations and battle reenactments, are carried out throughout the year.

Start and Endpoint: From the community of Pawpaw, byway runs north to Berkeley Springs along SR 9, where it becomes a loop route. The north loop follows SR 9, then several county roads and SR 480 southeast to Shepherdstown, then south on CR 230 and US 340 to Charlestown. The south loop runs southwest from Berkeley Springs on County Road 9/10 until it joins with US 522, then follows several county roads to Charlestown and US 340.

Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike

Connecting the upper Shenandoah Valley with the Ohio River, the route was essential to early development and settlement of the area. It was also of prime importance in the political dissension that led to the separation and eventual statehood of the section of Virginia that became West Virginia. The historic byway and associated backways include such Civil War sites as the Rich Mountain Battlefield, Beverly Historic District, Cheat Summit Fort, Camp Bartow, and Camp Allegheny. Accompanying points of interest are the many historic sites, houses, and towns revealing the hardships of early life experienced by the settlers.

Start and Endpoint: The 180-mile byway follows US 250 west from the West Virginia-Virginia state line to Huttonsville, then US 219 north to Beverly, US 33 to near Troy, and SR 47 to Parkersburg.

Was this page helpful?