Last Updated on May 5, 2022
Morgantown is one of the largest cities in West Virginia, but thankfully the area offers plenty of outdoor things to do for both locals and visitors to enjoy. Since Morgantown is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, outdoor activities in Morgantown are some of the top things to do! After living in Morgantown for a few years as WVU students, so take a break from working or studying and explore some of our favorite outdoor places!
Our Top Things to Do Outdoors in Morgantown, WV
Outdoor Things to Do in Morgantown This Summer
Run or Walk on the Rail-Trails
Morgantown’s old railways have been repurposed for outdoor fun, exercise, and conservation. Established and maintained by the Mon River Trails Conservancy, the Rail-Trails stretch 48 miles in three counties in West Virginia. The Mon River Trail, Deckers Creek Trail, and Caperton Trail intersect in Morgantown. These long, flat trails are perfect for running, walking, bicycling, and rollerskating, a nice alternative to the hilly hiking trails also throughout the Morgantown area. Check out a map of the Rail-Trails to see where you would like to explore. Our favorite trail, the Caperton Trail, has wooded stretches to the north and south, with the historic downtown and new Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park and Amphitheater in the middle.
Along the Decker’s Creek Trail, you’ll walk through a range of landscapes, from more urban to feeling like you’re in the middle of the woods. Starting at the downtown trailhead, you’ll walk through Morgantown’s neighborhoods and continue through the shopping plazas of Sabraton. Once through Sabraton, the landscape will change into forests and rocky hillsides.
Rail Trail Waterfalls
The Rail Trails feature multiple waterfalls! One is located between miles 11 and 12 and on Mon-River/Caperton Trail. If you hike towards mile marker 7 along the Decker’s Creek Trail, you’ll begin to see to rocky rapids of the Decker’s Creek. Some of these rapids form small falls. The largest waterfall along Deckers Creek is the Cascades at mile marker 12. The Cascades can also be accessed by parking at the Cascades picnic area along Route 7.
Hike at Coopers Rock State Forest
Want to know why West Virginia is called “Almost Heaven?” Visit Coopers Rock State Forest, a popular destination located a short drive from Morgantown on I-68. Coopers Rock has a variety of hiking trails rated as easy, moderate, and difficult. You can’t visit Coopers Rock without checking out its stunning panoramic views of the Cheat River and surrounding mountains. The best places to see this vista are at the main Overlook, located near the Concession with a handicap accessible deck, and Ravens Rock Trail, a moderate 2.5-mile hike from Coopers Rock Road. You can also get an interesting view of the main overlook from below by taking the underlook trail!
If you’re looking to add some history to your hike, take the Clay Furnace Trail to an old iron furnace to learn more about local industries of the past. There are also historic pavilions built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Extend your visit by staying at one of the two dozen campsites around the park!
Kayak or Boat at Cheat Lake
Located a short drive out of Morgantown, Cheat Lake is a perfect place to spend a day on the water. Cheat Lake offers a number of marinas and launches for kayaks, boats, and paddleboards. Our favorite place to visit is Sunset Beach Marina, where you can kayak by a peninsula with beautiful lakehouses nestled in the trees. This 13-mile long lake was built in the 1920s when the Cheat River was dammed to build a hydroelectric facility. A century earlier, a large ironworks was located on the Cheat River at Ice’s Ferry, which was supplied with raw iron by the Henry Clay Furnace at present-day Coopers Rock State Forest.
Cheat Lake Park
Cheat Lake also has a small park where you can launch your own boats, enjoy a playground with your family, or go swimming in a designated swimming area. At Cheat Lake Park, you can catch the 4.5-mile rail-trail that will walk you along the shore of the lake!
After kayaking, you can cool off in one of the designated swimming areas or enjoy a good meal at a nearby restaurant.
Take pictures at West Virginia Botanic Garden
Reflecting the natural beauty of the Mountain State, the West Virginia Botanic Garden is a wonderful place to discover an array of plants and wildlife, especially through your camera. Located just outside of Morgantown, the Botanic Garden is an 82-acre site that once held a reservoir, now reclaimed with grasses, trees, and small ponds. A few miles of trails and walking paths wind you through wetlands, meadows, streams, and hemlock forests, showcasing the diversity of West Virginia’s plant life through a variety of habitats.
The Botanic Garden is a wonderful place for taking pictures of plants as well as birds and other wildlife. They also offer occasional photography classes, along with gardening classes, lectures, guided walks, yoga, and summer camps for children.
Relax at the WVU Core Arboretum
The Core Arboretum, nestled in the heart of Morgantown, is a wonderful place to unwind after a busy day. This 91-acre park begins with a grassy, wooded area with a variety of native and non-native plants. The trails descend a steep hill, guiding you by old oak trees, exposed rock, and wildlife. At the bottom of the hill, you find a paved stretch of the Mon River Trail called the Caperton Trail, named in honor of Governor Gaston Caperton. Find a dirt trail branching off the Caperton Trail to walk along the flat floodplain to the Monongahela River. Some evenings, WVU’s Rowing Team practices on the river. The Core Arboretum was established in 1949 by Earl L. Core, WVU biology professor, botanist, and local historian. The Arboretum is open from dawn to dusk and is located next to the WVU Coliseum, which offers free parking. Visit their Facebook page to keep updated on lectures, bird walks, cleanup events, and festivals held at the Arboretum.
Explore the Mason Dixon Historical Park
The Mason Dixon Historical Park is located a short 20-drive from Morgantown right on the border of West Virginia and Pennsylvania! This park serves as a public space for hiking, picnicking, ball-games, and events in addition to preserving historic sites where surveyors Mason and Dixon worked to establish the border of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. The park features miles of trails of ranging difficulty. Along the M-D Trail, you can see the site where Mason and Dixon made their final measurements. Throughout your hike, you’ll cross into Pennsylvania and West Virginia multiple times! Along the Fairy Door Trail, check out the little fairy gardens created by local kids! There is also a small waterfall, called Tucker Falls, if you take the Orange Trail to the back of the park.
WVU Farm Hiking Trails
The WVU Farm has a network of hiking trails that the public an enjoy! You can access the trails along West Run Road by the Monongalia County Cemetery. This area of the farm is also used as a teaching and experimental space for WVU programs, so please be respectful of the signage! The trails are not extremely well labeled so it’s easy to just wander around. Some of the trails have been built up for mountain biking.
White Park is a beautiful park located on old farmland near First Ward. It features hiking trails, the Coburn Creek Reservoir, a hidden waterfall at the one end of the lake, and ice skating rink, and ballfields. To get to the waterfall, walk along the Woodland Trail to the far end of the lake (like towards the highway), and you’ll see a viewing area. Here you can look down at the waterfall below!
Tom’s Run Preserve
Thanks to the West Virginia Land Trust, Tom’s Run Preserve is the latest addition to the Morgantown’s Parks. This preserve features over 300 acres of green space with nature trails and a beautiful waterfall! Tom’s Run is located just 15 minutes south of Morgantown, making it a great spot for getting out of the city.
When visiting Tom’s Run, if you park at the main parking lot, you’ll have access to two trails that loop you through the property. Along the way, you’ll come upon field research studies being conducted by West Virginia University.
If you follow Little Falls Road about another half mile past the main lot, you’ll see another pull off the left hand side of the road (right before a sharp left curve). This trail access will take you down into the gorge, where you can find the waterfall!