Take A Drive Through Beautiful Forest Landscapes On This US Road Trip Route

As is the case with most countries around the world, the United States is dealing with deforestation. The U.S. loses millions of trees per year, which means increased floods and even more pollution as there are fewer trees to absorb excess carbon dioxide. Hope can be found in efforts to replant trees around the country, such as the organization 8 Billion Trees. While these continue to gain more ground, some wonderful swaths of forested land in the U.S. still make for scenic road trips.

John Denver had great reasons to mention West Virginia in the famous song "Take Me Home, Country Roads." Near the state's border in Virginia is the Highland Scenic Highway, comprised of State Routes 39 and 150. Highland Scenic Highway is only around 43 miles long, but the road gains over 2,000 feet in elevation. This makes it a bit risky to take on during winter, but during the summer months, the massive forests along this stretch of road epitomize taking the scenic route.

Walk among majestic trees in Cranberry Wilderness

The Highland Scenic Highway runs along West Virginia's Cranberry Wilderness. As part of the Monongahela National Forest, the Cranberry Wilderness is included in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). Such wilderness protection dates back to 1964 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act. The NWPS now protects 111 million acres of land in the United States. Hiking trails along the Highland Scenic Highway with wilderness views include Cranberry Glades Overlook and High Rocks Trail.

Near the spot at which State Route 150 connects with State Route 39 is the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. Aside from marked educational walking trails and picnic tables near the Highland Scenic Highway, the nature center also offers tours of the nearby Cranberry Glades Botanical Area. This area features bogs, which are acidic wetlands with unique plant life. Trails surrounded by trees in the botanical area begin off Forest Service Road 102, less than 3 miles from the nature center.

Camp near the Williams River in the Cranberry Wilderness

Williams River runs through the northern section of the Cranberry Wilderness. Williams River Road follows the river and intersects with the Highland Scenic Highway. Along this road are 30 Williams River Campsites, each numbered. While there are no water or electricity hookups for RVs, there are restrooms at the sites. Keep in mind these places cannot be reserved in advance as they operate on a first-come-first-serve basis. Aside from camping, the Snowshoe Mountain Overlook Village offers cabin rentals less than 30 minutes from the east end of the Highland Scenic Highway.

If you are crunched for time and do not plan to visit Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, set up a campsite, or rent a cabin, there are some quick ways to see the beautiful parts of the forests while on the Highland Scenic Highway. The highway has four overlook points: Little Laurel, Big Spruce, Williams River Valley, and Red Lick Overviews. These are located right on the highway, making for easy stops at your own pace.