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There is one rule in Preston County, West Virginia: Roam Free! The Appalachian views are inspiring, wildlife is abundant, and there is enough outdoor adventure to wear out the kid in you.

Countless customs and traditions passed down over generations are a vibrant part of daily life here, from mountain music to gifted artisans. The annual harvest has inspired the Buckwheat Festival for more than 75 years. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt served as the empathetic force behind Arthurdale, a New Deal community that became known as “Eleanor’s Little Village.” And the “free state of Preston” hosts a 13-mile section of Cheat
River that presents over 30 rapids rated Class III to Class V surrounded by a spectacular wilderness canyon.

Between the mountains lie spectacular valleys with small towns full of friendly locals, eager to share their stories and learn about yours.

Cranesville Swamp

Cranesville Swamp, featuring a magnificent range of mammals and birds, makes for an unforgettable day trip. On display are rare birds, like the northern water shrew. You may even sneak a peak of a bear rummaging around the shrubs next to Muddy Creek. Bring binoculars because you could catch a glimpse of the saw-whet owl, Blackburnian warbler, alder flycatcher, or any one of the more than 100 bird species.

Cathedral State Park

Cathedral State Park, which stretches 133 acres, is one of the last living commemorations of the vast virgin hemlock forest, which once thrived in Appalachia. Majestic trees, up to 90 feet in height and 21 feet in circumference, form avenues for visitors. Over 50 species of wildflowers and upwards of 170 species of vascular flora have been catalogued at the park.

Coopers Rock State Forest

The Coopers Rock State Forest offers hikers many trail options, ranging in all types of difficulties. Whether you want to take it easy or go on a daylong hike, Coopers Rock State Forest has great variety for hikers, featuring nearly 50 miles of trails. Discover the famous Rock City, with 30’ boulders and a plethora of top rope routes, and the breathtaking 1,200 ft. scenic overlook. In the winter, many of the park’s trails are suitable for cross-country skiing.

Alpine Lake Resort

An extraordinary place of natural beauty and serenity, our West Virginia mountain resort provides the ideal setting for a weekend get-away or family vacation. Nestled high in the Alleghenies, Alpine Lake Resort is set on 2000 heavily wooded acres with an award winning 18-hole golf course and a pristine 150-acre lake fed by springs and mountain streams. Mini golf, indoor swimming pool, fitness center, tennis, fishing, boating, and cross country skiing await you. Alpine Lake Resort offers an unforgettable setting for reunions, weddings and conference meetings.

The Lakers Lounge

The Lakers Lounge offers daily dinner specials and a flat screen TV for your enjoyment to watch your favorite sports team-The Lounge is open from 7 am-9 pm. The Evergreen dining room has an outdoor deck with a fantastic view of the lake with daily dinner specials. Hours of operation are 7 am- 9 pm. Call ahead for reservations to stay in our 35 room hotel and begin your experience in your getaway in the mountains!

Cool Springs Park

The West Virginia restaurant that’s one of the most unique restaurants in America-Open year round as a restaurant, general store and gift shop. The restaurant serves Buckwheat cakes all day long with the famous foot long hotdogs. The park includes an antique farm and railroad equipment, little train playground, fresh produce and fresh flowers for sale, unusual animals, a large water wheel, fish ponds, toys and picnic tables outside to enjoy and rest before you start back out on your journey.

12696 George Washington Highway , Rowlesburg, W.Va. 26425 Photo Credit: Christi Markwood

Fairfax Stone

One of the most significant historical landmarks in West Virginia. Located near Blackwater Falls State Park, the stone marked the western boundary of land granted to Lord Fairfax by the King of England in the 1700’s. Almost two centuries later, the stone was used as the determining factor in the state boundary between West Virginia and Maryland. Sitting at the source of the North Branch of the Potomac River, 3 counties converge and comes as near as anything to being a cornerstone of the entire state. Early surveyors in West Virginia started from this poinUS 219 Eglon, WV 26716

The Henry Clay Iron Furnace

The Henry Clay Iron Furnace is a cold blast furnace and is located in Coopers Rock State Forest, Exit 15 off I-68. Take a hike on scenic trails and visit a piece of WV history.

61 County Line Drive, Bruceton Mills, W.Va. 26525

Hovatters Zoo

What started out as a small collection of deer, black bear, cougars, and tigers has turned into a menagerie of chimpanzees, grizzlies, orange, and white tigers, spotted and black leopards, ring-tailed lemurs, and baboons. Over 100 animals from all over the world. Located in a woody setting so all the animals have the comfort of shade.

Rt. 1, Box 265 D between Reedsville and Kingwood. Closed Durning the winter

Ladies of the pines Church

Smallest Church in 48 States - Along Route 219, in Silver Lake, WV, southeast of Kingwood (pop. 2,944), you’ll find “Our Lady of The Pines,” promoted on old postcards and signs as the “Smallest Church in 48 States.” It boasts seating for 12, with six pews. The church is always open. You may have to buy your postcards on the honor system, since it’s not always staffed. The yellow-stone sanctuary, 24 ft. x 12 ft. (16 x 11 on the inside), was built by Lithuanian immigrant Peter Milkint in 1958. (Both Hawaii and Alaska became states in 1959).

Virginia Iron Furnace

Located along Rt. 26 in Albright, West Virginia, the Virginia Iron Furnace is a structure still standing where visitors can stop to experience a piece of WV History. The historic water-powered blast furnace that pre-dates the Civil War was built in 1854 and was used as a charcoal iron furnace used to smelt iron. The furnace remained in operation until the 1890’s and in 1933 the Virginia Furnace was acquired by the Kingwood Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution who created a roadside park at the furnace site.

Jenkinsburg Bridge/Bull Run

This spectacular bridge soars over the river it crosses at substantial elevation. Although straight-line distance, this bridge is only around 11 miles from downtown Morgantown, this bridge's location can only be described as extremely remote and rural. The road to this bridge is completely unimproved. 39.594780,-79.748310

Stone Arch Bridge

Stone arch bridge over CR 86 and Salt Lick Creek Location Preston County, West Virginia Status Open to traffic History Built 1865; Railroads - Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O; BO) - CSX Railroad (CSX) Design Stone arch Dimensions Span length: 32.2 ft. Total length: 32.2 ft. Approximate latitude, longitude +39.38677, -79.62959 (decimal degrees)