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Topic: Coopers Rock State Forest, West Virginia, Trip report (Nov 10, 2013)< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 9:32 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nov 10, 2013: Coopers Rock State Forest circuit

The amazing thing about the past four years, since I moved to Pittsburgh, is that I've never visited Coopers Rock State Forest. This region is only 1.5hrs away for me, in nearby West Virginia, and I've passed by it uncountable times always on the way to brighter and shinier locales. Looking for a closer alternative for my weekend hike, and hearing good things about the place from a coworker, I decided to give Coopers Rock a whirl. Boy, did I feel like a fool!

I started my hike from the McCollum Campground at 6:30am. I began by following the McCollum Trail. This took me through hardwood forest, which was quite pretty despite the dull early morning light and mostly bare trees. A short while later, I took a left on the Raven Rock Trail and followed this to my first viewpoint of the day, the extremely windy Raven Rock overlook. I had tried to time my arrival with low angled morning sunshine, and I got that, in spades. It was a delight to watch the oaks, some of which were still hanging on to their leaves, preen in the warm reds of a sleepy sun. The jewel of Cheat Lake and the silvery chain of the Cheat River formed a glittering pendant, reflecting the fiery reds of the hillsides. Eventually, the shadows lost their hold on the valley floor and things got a little less interesting, photography wise. All this time a cold 30mph wind had been blasting me and I had been suffering, despite the sunny conditions, so I was glad to pack up the camera gear and resume hiking.

Coopers Rock: Soft sunshine
Soft morning light

Coopers Rock: Outcrop
Outcrop

Coopers Rock: Shadows
Pendant

Coopers Rock: Reflections
Fiery reflection

Coopers Rock: Pots of gold
Highlighted

Coopers Rock: Pink clouds and red forest
Reds

Coopers Rock: Perch
Perch

I retraced my steps to the McCollum Trail and took a left, following it until it hit an old woods road; a right turn here and then, a few hundred yards later, a left down the hillside. This took me quickly down to the Sunset Wall Trail, on which I took a right. The next 0.6mi along this trail comprised the best part of the hike. Huge sandstone boulders rose like skyscrapers on my right. Mostly the trail stayed to the left of these, but periodically it would take me through the tightest of alleys. Incredibly cool!

Coopers Rock: Crack leading to Ann's Hall
Exiting Ann's Hall

Coopers Rock: Slab amidst a bed of leaves
Slab

Eventually, I reached the parking lot of the main Coopers Rock Overlook and its awesome views. Again, the wind was brutal, so I did not linger. In any case I was keen to get back to the Sunset Wall. I took the Underlook Trail, which skirted the underside of the main overlook - could there be a better name for a trail? I continued hiking amongst the rocky monoliths, as the Underlook Trail gave way to the Rattlesnake Trail and then the Rock City Trail.

Coopers Rock: Cheat River
Cheat River

Coopers Rock: Hiking amidst giants
Amidst giants

All this while, I'd mostly been trending downwards. A final downhill spurt on the Ridge Trail - incredibly pretty with fallen leaves everywhere - and the Mont Chateau trails took me to the low point of the day at Cheat Lake. It would be all uphill from now.

Coopers Rock: Hiking soothes the soul
Hiking soothes the soul (self 'portrait')

Coopers Rock: Cheat Lake
Cheat Lake

Coopers Rock: Cracked
Cracked

I retraced my steps on the Mont Chateau Trail, but continued to follow it, past the junction with the Ridge Trail, hiking beside pretty Clay Run. The hike had yet more wonders to reveal: the historical Henry Clay Iron Furnace made for an interesting diversion. From this point onwards, I picked up the pace; the Clay Run Trail, followed by Trail D and then the Laurel Meadow Trails were a blur, though I did get stalled by the 6 Acre Reservoir just before the finish.

Coopers Rock: Furnace
Henry Clay Iron Furnace

Coopers Rock: Six acre reservoir
6 Acre Reservoir

Stats:
- Distance: 11.5mi
- Elevation gain: 2,100ft
- Hiking/photography time: 7hrs


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 9:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hmmm ... a familiar hike. Ann Devine-King showed us "Ann's Hall". I don't think that section of the Sunset Rocks Trail shows up on the forest map. I hung that name on it. One of the neatest "hidden gems" in WV in my opinion. Again, amazing photography.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 10:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks MR. I gotta thank you for your website for this hike: I made a snap decision to go here, and since I didn't have any prior info I went to your website first. Luckily, I found you had the perfect route laid out. You're the man!

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 6:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have driven by it many times. About three times this year alone and never stopped. Might put it on the list for next spring.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 7:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

They have a well kept campground.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 7:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(arfcomhkr @ Nov. 11 2013, 6:34 pm)
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I have driven by it many times. About three times this year alone and never stopped.

That was pretty much me, the past three years! Put this place on the must visit list, you won't regret it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 7:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(arfcomhkr @ Nov. 11 2013, 6:34 pm)
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I have driven by it many times. About three times this year alone and never stopped. Might put it on the list for next spring.

I've lived here in WV my whole life, and have never been on that piece of I-68!  Been to Cheat lake many times though.

Is there anything long enough up in there to backpack??  I figured it as more of a day hiking area.  

We should hit it up sometime though for sure.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 12 2013, 8:11 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Back country camping isn't allowed.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 12 2013, 9:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

CR is very near to me since I grew up in the area and live near. I've hiked there probably 15 times this year alone. Yes, there are some nice places there and backcountry camping isn't officially allowed. Gali, you picked a nice loop though you did miss a few little hidden gems but you can't get everything in one day. I'm not sure where you got the "Trail D" name but I know where you are referring to. BTW, there's some really neat but much different stuff on the other side of I68.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 12 2013, 10:55 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

All credit for the loop (as well as the names "Trail D" and "Ann's Hall") should be given to MRHyker, since I took the hike from his website. I'll most likely be exploring other trails and route options in the region, in future, since I live relatively close.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 12 2013, 12:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Trail D is on the Friends of Coopers Rock Map that Ann gave me. I don't know if it is still available to the public and if it is where it can be gotten. I'll ask Ann.

Trail D connects Clay Run and Laurel Meadows Trails.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 13 2013, 7:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wonderful pics and TR.  Visited the area dozens of times during my college years at WVU during the 70's...havent been there since.  

Thanks for the memories.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 13 2013, 8:15 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, Trail D was obvious based on the other trails. Over the last year I've hiked basically every trail and pseudo trail on the south side. The year before I revisited every trail on the north side excepting part of Johnson Hollow trail. I have several maps of the area but haven't seen the Friends map. If it is not available could you scan it MR?

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 13 2013, 10:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I E-mailes Ann to see if more copies are available. She's currently helping her husband rehab a total hip replacement (Dr. is in Pittsburgh.) so I might nor from her for a couple of days. Trail D is on the official forest map but it is un-named. It continues up to the picnic area. Having problems locating my Friends map but I'll find it if its in this house. They tried to get the forest to sell it but they wouldn't ... I think because it shows some of the "not so official trails".

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 13 2013, 10:55 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I mis-spoke. It's called the Coopers Rock Foundation. Here's the web site. I checked it but saw no mention of the map.

I found my copy. Don't know that I can scan it. It's a big fold up. V - have you ever hiked Snake Hill WMA and have we talked before about the Johnson Hollow/God Speed Highway Loop. From what I hear the latter is a gravel road. Does the JHT add any redeeming value to the hike? I "think" that's the only prominent circuit I haven't hiked in the forest although I'm sure there are more hidden gems not shown on the map.

I should also note that the official forest map only covers the south side of I-68.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 13 2013, 12:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

MR,

I've hiked Snake Hill many a time. I wouldn't go out of your way to hike it. There are a few really nice overlooks and that's about it. There are trails and I have a map and my own GPS tracks but it's more for hunting. The area was logged a few years ago (2008 I think) since that was the last chance for the logging companies to log it before it went off limits. That sort of messed it up. Still decent if you live near and is used for cross-country skiing.

As for Johnson Hollow/Goodspeed Highway, yes GH is a gravel road that is gated part of the year. Not fun to hike and WVU recently clearcut on the south side of GH much of the way. At certain times of the year you can see a bit of the cut from I68. Johnson Hollow is nice. I hiked it once back around 1990 or 91. In February of 2012 I spent close to an hour trying to find the eastern trailhead to Johnson Hollow. After nearly giving up I found it and did about half of the trail. I like the trail and will probably do the entire thing sometime this coming winter. Again, I wouldn't make a trip for it. JHT is not signed at all at the top end and I believe the bottom end may be an old woods road. If you want more info let me know.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 16 2013, 9:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Today, I returned to Coopers Rock, this time with my kids.  It was a real joy to watch them climb up and down the rocks at the Sunset Wall and to see them having fun. An amazing day.

Coopers Rock: Dwarfed
Dwarfed

Coopers Rock: Through the woods
Brothers

Coopers Rock: Trout Pond
Trout Pond

Coopers Rock: Reflections
6 Acre Reservoir


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 17 2013, 8:28 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice to get the kids involved. It's a good place for it.

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17 replies since Nov. 11 2013, 9:32 am < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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