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Topic: Coopers Rock State Forest, West Virginia, Trip report (Nov 10, 2013)< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 9:34 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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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 11 2013, 4:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oh the memories. I climbed a lot of those rocks in years of climbing there most every nice weekend. I hiked to the furnace and the lake with my daughter when she was in college. Some nice trails and overlooks there.
Your pictures are very nice and bring back pleasant memories. Thanks for sharing.
There is a WVU forest on the other side of I68 with some forest trails. I don't know about vistas though. I think Mrhyker did a report and a cpl. write ups on his web site.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 16 2013, 9:57 pm Skip to the previous 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.


Dwarfed


Brothers


Trout Pond


6 Acre Reservoir


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2 replies since Nov. 11 2013, 9:34 am < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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