Day Trip Guide to Cooper’s Rock State Forest West Virginia

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Cooper Rock State Forest, just 15 miles east of Morgantown West Virginia has been one of our favorite destinations in Mountaineer Country. As WVU students, we frequently adventured at Cooper’s Rock, exploring the miles of trails and scenic rock formations.

Coopers Rock State Forest gets its name from a legend that a fugitive cooper (a person who makes barrels) hid from the law near what is now the main overlook. Coopers Rock was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a group of workers hired by the US government as part of an unemployment relief program. The Corps constructed many of the pavilions and structures at the Forest.

Practical Information for Visiting Coopers Rock State Forest

Coopers Rock State Forest is open year-round from dawn to dusk. The park is accessible via I-68. Simply take the exit to Coopers Rock and follow signs for the park. Phone service at Cooper’s Rock can be limited in some areas.

Top Things to Do at Cooper’s Rock State Forest

Hiking at Cooper’s Rock State Forest

Cooper’s Rock is home to miles of exciting hiking trails for all skill levels. You never know what you might find along the trails!

Raven’s Rock Trail

Raven’s Rock Trail is one of the most popular trails at Cooper’s Rock State Forest because it ends with another scenic overlook! This overlook offers another view of the Cheat River and Gorge. This 1.5 mile in and out trail has a down and up elevation change, making it a beginner to moderate hike. Park at the Raven’s Rock trail parking area to access the trailhead. This trail does get busy so be aware you might have to park along the side of the road.

Underlook Trail

Even though the best view from the Cooper’s Rock Overlook is from the overlook itself, you can get an interesting look at the rock formations by taking the “underlook” trail, which takes you below the overlook. This rocky, less 0.2 mile hike will have you climbing through the rock formations.

Henry Clay Iron Furnace Trails

Cooper’s Rock State Forest was once used as a space for iron production. The Henry Clay Iron Furnace operated from the 1830s until the 1860s, and at its peak, it would produce up to 4 tons of pig iron every day.

Today, you can see how nature has reclaimed this one industrial site. It’s hard to believe that the area was once full of workers, families, and businesses. Even though the remnants of the once-booming town are now gone, you can see the iron furnace. To access the Iron Furnace, make a right onto the first road in the forest, and then you’ll come upon a parking area about 2 miles in. The trailhead for the Clay Furnace Trail is located in the parking area. The Trail is a moderate in-and-out 0.8-mile trail.

Once you arrive at the Iron Furnace, you’ll have the change to access other trails, the Advanced Ski Trail, the Clay Run Trail (which also has a trailhead at the McCollum campground entrance), and Rhododendron Trail (which also has access from shelter 3 at the lower picnic area)

Rock City Trail

The Rock City Trail is another trail that offers a unique look at the geological landscape in Cooper’s Rock State Forest. This 1-mile hike starting from Picnic Shelter 3 has a large cavernous rock feature that makes you feel like you’re walking into a movie scene.

Roadside Trail

If you want to hike your way to the Cooper’s Rock Overlook, you can take this easy 3-mile hike along the main road. This trail can be accessed from the parking lot the forest entrance.

Virgin Hemlock Trail

This trail might be considered one of the “forgotten” trails of Coopers Rock. This trail is not located inside the main park area but is maintained by the park. The Virgin Hemlock Trail takes you through a large virgin hemlock grove with over 300-year-old trees. This trail is along WV Route 73 and is 1.2 miles long. The parking area for this trail is a small pull-off along the main road.

Picnicking at Coopers Rock State Forest

Cooper’s Rock State Forest has plenty of areas for picnicking. Picnic areas are equipped with grills and picnic tables. As you drive into Cooper’s Rock State Forest, you’ll see picnic area pull-offs along the main road. There are also plenty of picnic sites at the Main Overlook area and shelters for rent.

Rock Climbing Coopers Rock State Forest

Thanks to its natural rock formations, Cooper’s Rock State Forest has tons of opportunities for rock climbing and bouldering!

Camping and Cabin Rentals at Cooper’s Rock State Forest

Cooper’s Rock is home to two campsites, the McCollum Campground the Rhododendron Campground. The McCollum Campground is a traditional campsite with 25 sites for both tents and campers. A bathhouse and Wi-Fi access are available. The Rhododendron Campground is for those looking to camp with only a tent! These sites are available for reservations from April 1st to December 15th. Pets are allowed, and sites are available for up to 14 days.

Cabin Rentals are available at Cooper’s Rock through Mountain Creek Cabins. These cabins are privately owned and are fully equipped with amenities such as kitchens, hot tubs, and fireplaces.

Cooper’s Rock State Forest Tentrr Sites

In addition to traditional camping at Cooper’s Rock State Forest, you can glamp in one of the Tentrr sites! These sites include an already assembled canvas tent, a queen bed, furniture, a rustic bathroom, a firepit, and more! Tentrr sites allow you to enjoy the outdoors with luxury comfort.

Cooper’s Rock Scenic Overlook

The Cooper’s Rock Scenic Overlooks offers a 360-degree view of Mountaineer Country. This overlooks towers over the Cheat River and is gorgeous during every season.

To get to the Cooper’s Rock Overlook, once you get into the park, continue driving straight until you arrive at the main parking lot (the road will end). Once there, you’ll see Overlook Trading Post, a playground, and picnic areas. From here, follow the signs to the overlook. The Overlook is handicapped accessible.

Who’s Ready to Take a Day Trip to Cooper’s Rock State Forest!?

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