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Community Description 

The City of Elkins has much to offer as an outdoor town.  It is a large enough town that has amenities like a regional hospital, a variety of restaurants, specialty shopping, grocery stores, and brand name hotels, but it is small enough to retain the charm of a historic country town.  Elkins' location just on the edge of Monongahela National Forest puts it in the heart of West Virginia's renowned outdoor recreation resources.  The mountains, forests, rivers and rocks near Elkins are a big part of the culture and experience for those who live here as well those who visit.  

Check out the descriptions and details below for all the outdoor recreation resources near Elkins.  

Community Resources

Outdoor recreation opportunities near Elkins:

Backpackers hike a trail in Dolly Sods


Much of the best backpacking in the state is within an hour of town.  These locations provide opportunities to explore the high mountain environments of the state with deep forest, waterfalls and sweeping views.  Otter Creek is the closest to town with the southern trailhead for the Otter Creek Trail only twenty minutes from downtown.  The closest trailheads in both Laurel Fork & Seneca Creek Backcountry are about forty minutes from town.  Canaan Mountain, Dolly Sods & Roaring Plains are all under an hour from Elkins.  

A family rides bikes in Elkins on the Allegheny Highlands Trail


The Allegheny Highlands Trail southern terminus is in Elkins and allows for cyclists to ride from downtown out into the rolling hills, farmland and mountain views from Leading Creek Valley.  West Fork Trail is south east of Elkins and is a great ride along the northern part of the Greenbrier River drainage.  As with most of West Virginia, road cycling on back roads near Elkins is a great way to explore the countryside.  

Tents at Laurel Fork CG


There are a lot of places to camp within a 45 minute drive from Elkins. Stuart Recreation Area & Bear Heaven are close to town and provide good basecamps for people wanting to do other adventures in the area.  Audra SPLaurel Fork Campground & Lower Glady Dispersed Camping are all beside a stream or creek and provide great places to visit in the summer.  Kumbrabow State ForestTeter Creek Lake are places to camp if you want solitude.  

View from a kayak along the Tygart River


Although many of the rivers and creeks near Elkins are whitewater, there are some good flatwater/moving water options.  The Tygart River (Elkins) flows through town and has been engineered for flood control.  This creates a 3 mile low flow waterway that allows for out and back paddling.  The Tygart River (Huttonsville to Elkins) is a 32 mile section of river that flows through the farmland and surrounding mountains of the upper Tygart Valley.  Other options nearby include the Buckhannon River & Teter Creek Lake. 

A person looks out over Elkins from Fox Forest WMA


There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails in close proximity to Elkins.  Many of these are within backcountry and wilderness areas highlighted as backpacking destinations (Otter Creek, Laurel Fork, etc).  There are a number of options for hiking in Elkins city limits or just outside, including  Allegheny Highlands Trail, Fox Forest WMA, Glendale/River Bend Park & Robert E. Urban Nature Trail.  The Middle Mtn/Laurel Fork Area is about an hours drive south of town and includes a great hike to the High Falls of the Cheat River.  

Seneca Rocks as seen from the ground. North peak is on the left, south peak is on the right.

Rock Climbing

Bear Heaven is close to Elkins and provides a local climbing spot that doesn't get a lot of traffic. Seneca Rocks is about a 45 minute drive to the east and provides some of the best traditional multi-pitch climbing in the eastern part of the country.  

Two people get ready to jump into a swimming hole

Swimming Holes

Along with great whitewater and rivers comes the opportunity for swimming hole fun in the summer.  Spots close to Elkins include Stuart Recreation Area, Bowden, Mule Hollow and High Falls of the Cheat on the Shavers Fork as well as the wilderness swimming experience at Otter Creek.  

Two people on a Shredder paddle through a rapid on the Tygart Gorge


Elkins is well situated near the Tygart and Cheat River drainages and because of this has close access to a wide variety of whitewater opportunities all within an hour from town.  Experienced paddlers can run the high volume class IV-V Tygart Gorge or the Class IV-V Middle Fork/Tygart Gorge run that combines the smaller Middle Fork with the larger Tygart to create a unique experience.  The class III-V Shavers Fork (McGee Run to Bemis) includes High Falls and another great advanced skill section of river.  Those looking for beginner to intermediate whitewater can try out Tygart River (Aggregates to Beaver Creek),  Shavers Fork (Stuart Rec. Area to Parsons), Shavers Fork (Bemis to Bowden), Glady Fork (Glady to US 33) & Glady Fork (US 33 to Sully).  

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