Car-camping near Washington D.C.

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of September 25-October 1, 1997
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Car-camping near Washington D.C.
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Car-camping near Washington D.C.
Question: My friends and I have a free weekend coming up and would like to do some camping. Are there any places we can car-camp within a few hours of D.C., like West Virginia? We'd also like to find places that are fairly secluded and near some good hiking. Someplace near a river or lake would be nice too.

Jim Lee
Springfield, VA
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: I have two awesome suggestions for you, both of which are less than 300 miles from D.C. and are located in or near Monongahela National Forest.

The first is the North Fork Mountain Trail, a two-day hike that starts at North Fork Gap and follows the edge of North Fork Mountain. The 14-mile trail overlooks a gorge that was cut by the Potomac and serves up some pretty spectacular views of the Blue Ridge off in the distance.

Backcountry camping is permitted anywhere in the Monongahela Forest, except at trailheads, and there is a smattering of springs where you can get your water supply as long as you bring along a filter.

To get there, drive to Petersburg, West Virginia then take WV 28/55 to the town of Cabins. Turn right on Smoke Hole Road and you'll find the trailhead a half-mile down on your right.

For more details, call either the Seneca Rocks Visitor Center at 304-567-2827 or the Potomac Ranger District at 304-257-4488.

Another option is the Clover Lick Campsite nestled in the jagged Allegheny Mountains adjacent to Monongahela National Forest. From the campsite, you'll find an amazing gravel bike trail that runs through the heart of the Greenbrier River Valley.

The route winds through hardwood forests and old skeleton towns left over from the timber days. The only bummer is that the trail doesn't loop so you'll either have to take in the same scenery twice or explore various roads that may or may not lead you back to the campsite.

To get there, take I-66 100 miles west to I-81. Then head south 110 miles until you hit U.S. 250. From there, go west 65 miles to County Road 1, and then head south 15 miles to Clover Lick. My memory is a little shaky on these directions, so you may want to check with the Greenbrier River Trail Association (304-572-3771).

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