Monongahela National Forest starting to reopen developed recreation sites

WHSV file image of the Dolly Sods Wilderness in fall of 2019
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MONONGAHELA NATIONAL FOREST, W.Va. (WHSV) — Starting on Thursday, May 21, the Monongahela National Forest will be reopening some developed recreational sites on forestland to visitors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we understand there may be some excitement to return to these recreation areas, there may be limited services or spaces available,” said Shawn Cochran, Forest Supervisor. “We ask that visitors please continue to follow local, state and federal guidelines on staying safe and practice good hygiene and social distancing wherever they choose to visit.”

They're still asking people to avoid congregating at trailheads and parking areas and to refrain from gathering in groups of more than 10 to stay in compliance with CDC guidelines.

The following sites will open on May 21. You can find a full list of open areas and the plan for reopenings in the national forest at

Bartow Area

· Camp Allegheny Day Use Area
· Cheat Summit Fort Day Use Area

Elkins Area

· Bickle Knob Observation Tower
· Stuart Recreation Area (both the campground and picnic area, but not the group campsite)

Marlinton Area

· Highland Scenic Highway Overlooks
· Williams River Fishing Pier (on Forest Road 86, just east of the Highland Scenic Highway)

Parsons Area

· Horseshoe Recreation Area (both the campground and the picnic area will open on May 22)
· Olson Observation Tower

Petersburg Area

· Big Bend Campground

Richwood Area

· Cranberry Glades Boardwalk
· Falls of Hills Creek Trail
· Summit Lake Day Use Area (not the campground)

Seneca Rocks Area

· Seneca Rocks Picnic Area and trailhead (but not the picnic shelter)
· Seneca Shadows Campground
· Spruce Knob Lake Campground

Monongahela National Forest says they are taking the risks of COVID-19 seriously and will continue to monitor the situation and all operations of the forest to meet changing needs and recommendations from federal, state and local officials.

Visitors are asked to stay as local as possible when choosing a site to visit and to pack out everything they bring, especially trash. Visitors are also urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health and safety guidance. For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, you can click here .

Certain services may still be unavailable, so visitors are asked to plan accordingly and to remain flexible.

Up-to-date information about Monongahela National Forest is available online here.