For Panoramic Forest Views Visit This Riverside Southern US Location

West Virginia is one of the smallest states in the U.S.; however, for what it lacks in size, it makes up for with its abundance of natural beauty. Tucked away in the West Virginia wilderness, Seneca State Forest offers panoramic forest views that will captivate nature lovers.

The state forest is located in Pocahontas County, which is affectionately called Nature's Mountain Playground by some people. Spanning more than 11,600 acres of flourishing Appalachian woodlands, Seneca State Forest is The Mountain State's oldest and largest state forest. This Appalachian gem is populated by towering white pines and oak trees, surrounded by blooming plants and wildflowers. The Greenbrier River (pictured above) and various creeks weave through the lush landscape, and snug within the forest lies the 4-acre Seneca Lake. Thanks to conservation efforts, the state forest is a wildlife haven for diverse species ranging from fish to bears. Campers, adventurous travelers, and hikers can all explore the breathtaking nature-viewing opportunities at Seneca State Forest.

Hiking through the forest

Trekking the Seneca State Forest trail system is one of the best ways to observe the flora and fauna. There are more than 23 miles of hiking trails that lead to different scenic outlooks throughout the forest. While a majority of the paths are meant to be explored by foot, there are trails that allow horseback riding and mountain biking. The circular Thorny Creek Trail leads travelers through 6 miles of beautiful forest, enveloping them in the peaceful sounds of Thorny Creek and the songs of woodland birds. Moreover, hikers at Seneca State Forest can trek 10 miles of The Allegheny Trail — a famous, 330-mile route that runs from the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border to the Virginia/West Virginia border. The serenity of Seneca State Forest is only amplified during snowy winter months. During this time of year, many of the forest's trails are utilized for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

One of the most alluring attractions at Seneca State Forest is The Thorny Mountain Fire Tower, an observation area that stands at 65 feet tall, providing 360-degree views. The tower can be easily accessed from Loop Road, which cuts through the forest. After venturing to the tower, take the .75 mile-long Fire Tower Trail, a strenuous route that will lead you to Seneca Lake. At the lake, you can rent a boat to enjoy more sightseeing from the waters. Before visiting this West Virginia destination, save a copy of the official Seneca State Forest trail map to plan ahead.

Camping in Seneca State Forest

To take in even more captivating views of the Appalachian woodlands, transform your day trip into a camping adventure. Seneca State Forest has 10 off-the-grid campsites suitable for both tent and RV camping. Each forested site has a private picnic table, level tent and trailer pads, and a firepit. The campgrounds are typically open from early spring through fall, depending on weather. For a cozier experience, there are eight furnished pioneer cabins available to rent, which include gas lights, a wood-burning cookstove, a fireplace, cooking and eating utensils, and outdoor amenities including a grilling area and porch swing. Keep in mind that these cabins are rustic — they do not have plumbing or electricity as they are truly intended to offer a taste of what pioneer life must have been like in this region. However you won't be completely roughing it, as the cabins do have a gas refrigerator, hand-pump water wells and vault toilets.

Visitors can also book an overnight stay at The Thorny Mountain Fire Tower. This unique dwelling is available between May and October, and can accommodate up to four people. From the treehouse-like tower, before hitting the hay, you can watch the tree line become imbued with hundreds of stars as night falls on the forest. Reservations can be made directly online for campsites, cabins, and the fire tower. It is important to note that The Thorny Mountain Fire Tower is so popular that it typically needs to be booked out at least one year in advance. For a secluded outdoor getaway deep within Appalachia, make the pilgrimage to West Virginia's beautiful Seneca State Forest.