8 Day Trip Ideas for Preston County
A Day Back in Time
Preston’s heritage is as deep as West Virginia’s Appalachian roots. Museums and war reenactments will take you back in time as you tour various battle sites in Preston County!
Arthurdale, the spot of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s only high school commencement address during his presidency, was one of the first planned communities of the New Deal. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt fostered the community in the 1930s, and is often referenced as, “Eleanor’s Little Village.”
Local events, such as the Cheat River festival and the Preston County Buckwheat Festival, give you the chance to learn of Preston’s Appalachian history by interacting with locals and visitors from all around the state.
History buffs must visit Historic Rowlesburg, a major railroad link during the Civil War. The Rowlesburg Railroad and World War II Museums are open to the public to educate visitors on critical war battles that occurred in Preston, like the Battle of the Rowlesburg in 1863.
The History House Museum in Terra Alta is a memento of Preston County’s historic past. From June through September, visitors can view photos and artifacts from as early as the 1800s.
Blaze a Trail
This exciting West Virginia county has a secret: a variety of easily accessible scenic trails! Snow skiing, rock climbing, rail hiking, and mountain biking are entryways to awesome wildlife, fresh air, and spectacular views.
Have a picnic at the Rail-Trail, which is open for cycling, jogging, roller blading, walking, and even non-motorized use. It features a smooth durable surface for wheelchairs and all types of bicycles.
Chestnut Ridge Park offers visitors great hikes, like the Mile Trail and Great Gorge Trail. If you are adventurous, check out the Bruceton Mills Dam. There is whitewater on Little Sandy Creek for those looking for a thrill!
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, 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.
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.
Fairs & Festivals
There is nothing more exciting than a cool, late September evening in Kingwood! The Buckwheat Festival brings thousands of visitors each year and is a “crowning” jewel of West Virginia’s festival culture!
One of the state’s biggest festivals is the Buckwheat Festival, occurring in late September in Kingwood, West Virginia. Witness a glass blowing or wood-carving exhibit, or catch a game of Irish Road Bowling. Feast on one of the West Virginia’s most unique dishes, the buckwheat cake, while attending one of several parades throughout the weekend. Residents from all over the state come up to view the attractions, experience a thrill ride or two, and see the crowning of the Buckwheat Queen!
The West Virginia Day celebration in Kingwood celebrates the birthday of the state each year on June 20. Held at the McGrew House in Kingwood, the event features WV artifacts and stories, photographs and more. Refreshments and some entertainment is available. The community works together to commemorate the creation of West Virginia as a state.
The Valley District Fair is held each summer in Reedsville at the Reedsville Volunteer Fire Department grounds. Activities include a pageant, parade, food vendors, small games and entertainment. There are also mud bog, truck & tractor and ATV races and pulls.
Annual River City Festival on Memorial Day Weekend is always a smashing success with a parade, a play, barbershop quartet, magician, poetry, original Rowlesburg piano composition, and capped off by the outstanding voice of soprano Cristina Nassif singing arias from favorite operas. Visit www.rowlesburg.org/rivercity.html for more information.
Terra Alta offers a chance for residents and visitor’s to celebrate the oldest, continuous July 4th celebration in the state of West Virginia with carnival rides, vendors, fire department giveaways, chicken dinners cooked by the TAVFD, a parade, fireworks, and a demolition derby.
The Ox Roast-Labor Day Celebration is Rowlesburg’s modern day “Claim to Fame” & visitors come from all corners of the USA to partake in a gastronomic treat found only in the Cheat River Valley. The park crew light the BBQ pit fire on Sunday night so that the ox roasts slowly to a moist, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. The fire is tended all night to make sure your portion is high quality. In additon to great food, there is a carnival, music & other entertainment, plus a finale of fireworks from Cannon Hill over the river
The New Deal Festival is held annually in July to celebrate the unique history of the first New Deal Homestead Community of Arthurdale. The event is sponsored by Arthurdale Heritage, Inc. with food, entertainment, antique car, tractor, & tractor show, kids activities, wagon rides, crafts & artisan demos. This non-profit organization was formed to “restore yesterday for tomorrow.” For more information about the event and what it features, please visit www.newdealfestival.org.
Good Neighbor Day Festivities is held in Bruceton Mills, WV every July with fireworks, a parade, rides, food and other events. The Good Neighbor Day Festivities is held by Bruceton/Brandonville VFD.
The Annual Fellowsville VFD Fireman’s Field Day is held each year in June. The field day includes the “Battle of the Barrels” which involves local fire departments coming together for a little “friendly” competition, crowds gather to watch the biggest event of the day and that is the Snowy Creek Antique Tractor Club’s tractor pull. There are also a kids bucket brigade race, foot races, other games, entertainment, music and a BBQ. It is a chance for the Preston County community to get together and have some fun!
The WV Chestnut Festival is honoring the great American Chestnut Tree and the research scientists dedicated to restoring them back to their natural forest habitat. Held in the Rowlesburg Park with vendors, roasting chestnuts, chestnut saplings, distinguished guest speakers and banquet.
The Cheat River Festival, known affectionately as Cheat Fest, is held every year in Albright, West Virginia on the first weekend in May. Featuring kayaking, rafting, camping, bands, vendors, games, food and festivities, Cheat Fest has something to offer everyone who loves the outdoors. The Friends of the Cheat (FOC), the group responsible for the Cheat River Festival each year, hosts this extravaganza to raise money to protect their most precious of natural resources, that is the Cheat River. Check out the Cheat River Festival Photo Gallery and begin to see what makes this event so special. For more information visit www.cheatfest.org
Annual Heritage Days are held in Aurora in partnership with the Aurora Project and the Aurora Historical Society in the month of June along Rt. 50 in Preston County. The events begin Friday evening and run through Saturday. Plenty of food will be available the whole weekend including BBQ Chicken, hot dogs, and baked goods. There will be craft tables, a yard sale, pictures of Aurora businesses and celebrating local history and Appalachian culture.
Outdoor Adventures for Kids
Check out Preston’s kid-friendly itineraries, the best part of your vacation!
Open 24/7, Little Sandy’s Restaurant is he perfect start to your day. The staff is friendly and will happily serve you a heaping helping of Preston’s favorite: buckwheat cakes.
Afterwards, meet the Cheat River Outfitters crew for a whitewater experience you will never forget! The Cheat Narrows Tour takes 2-5 hours, which includes lunch. If you don’t want to get wet, there are plenty of other activities like paint ball, rock climbing, and fishing!
All ages can appreciate amazing wildlife! Lucky for you, Hovatter’s Wildlife Zoo is right in Kingwood. Adults and kids alike will enjoy the quirky antics of a chimpanzee or the majesty of the Bengal tigers.
Spend a day at Coopers Rock State Forest gazing off of the most beautiful scenic overlook West Virginia has to offer. Climb, hike, and jump over and around the low difficulty trails that every member of the family will enjoy. Stop at the snack shop for a beverage and head to the playground. Coopers Rock is a unique part of Preston County you absolutely cannot miss!
Stop in Reedsville for an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen, and then head back to your hotel, cabin, or campground to relax after such an adventurous day in Preston County!
Are you a motorcycle enthusiast? Check out these routes in Preston County for curves and scenic views.
From Preston County Visitors’ Center
137 Price Street, Kingwood, WV 26537
DIRECTIONS TO DORSEY’S KNOB PARK
Head west on Price Street toward Morgantown St
Turn right onto WV-7 W/Morgantown St
Turn left onto WV-92 S/S Robert Stone Way
Turn right onto Co Route 29/Gladesville Rd
Turn right onto US-119 N/Grafton Rd
Total: 25.3 mi – about 38 mins
DIRECTIONS TO COOPERS ROCK
Starting from US-119 N/Grafton Rd
Head northwest on US-119 N/Grafton Rd
Slight right at Grafton Rd
Turn left at US-119 S/Grafton Rd
Turn right to merge onto I-68 E toward Cumberland, MD
Take exit 15 for County Rd 73/12 toward Coopers Rock
Turn right at Co Route 73/12
Follow Signs to Overlook
Total: 18.6 mi – about 28 mins
DIRECTIONS TO AURORA
Head southeast toward Co Rd 73/16
Turn left at Co Rd 73/16
Continue onto Co Route 73/12
Turn right to merge onto I-68 E
Take exit 23 for W Virginia 26 toward Bruceton Mills
Turn right at W Virginia 26 S
Turn left at W Virginia 7 E/E Main St
Turn right at W Virginia 72 S
Turn right at W Virginia 72 S/Buffalo St
Turn left at US-50 E/George Washington Hwy
Arriving at US-50 E/George Washington Hwy
Total: 52.0 mi – about 1 hour 14 mins
DIRECTIONS TO BLACKWATER FALLS STATE PARK, DAVIS, WV
Starting from US-50 E/George Washington Hwy
Head east on US-50 E/George Washington Hwy toward Aurora Pike/Co Route 53/Terra Alta Rd
Slight right at W Virginia 24 S/Co Route 24/14/Shillenberg Rd
Continue onto US-219 S
Continue onto W Virginia 32 S/Spruce St
Slight left at W Virginia 32 S/Davis Rd
Turn right at Blackwater Falls Rd/Co Route 29
Turn right to stay on Blackwater Falls Rd/Co Route 29
Sharp left at Blackwater Falls Picnic Area Rd/Park Forest Rd 803
Continue onto Blackwater Falls Rd/Co Route 29/1
Arriving at Blackwater Falls Rd/Co Route 29/1
Total: 21.1 mi – about 31 mins
DIRECTIONS TO DEEP CREEK LAKE, MD
Starting from Blackwater Falls Rd/Co Route 29/1
Head east on Blackwater Falls Rd/Co Route 29/1 toward Blackwater Falls Picnic Area Rd/Park Forest Rd 803
Slight left at Blackwater Falls Picnic Area Rd/Park Forest Rd 803
Sharp right at Blackwater Falls Rd/Co Route 29
Turn left to stay on Blackwater Falls Rd/Co Route 29
Turn left at W Virginia 32 N
Continue straight onto US-219 N
Keep left at the fork >> Entering Maryland
Turn left at E Oak St
Turn right at US-219 N/S 3rd St
Arriving at US-219 N/Garrett Hwy
Total: 34.8 mi – about 55 mins
DIRECTIONS TO PRESTON COUNTY VISITORS’ CENTER
Starting from US-219 N/Garrett Hwy
Head south on US-219 S/Mason Dixon Hwy toward Crossroad School Rd
Merge onto 1-68 W/US-219 S/US-40W (via ramp to Morgantown)
Take exit 23 for W Virginia 26 toward Bruceton Mills
Turn left onto WV-26 S
Turn left onto S Price Street (destination on left)
Total: 63.9 mi – about 1 hour 14 mins
Preston Features several campgrounds to escape to and relax. Preston features several outdoor activities to satisfy every type of sportsman. Visitors can fish and swim in Big Bear Lake or mountain bike through Coopers Rock State Forest. Whether you enjoy skiing, biking, boating, or rock climbing, there is something for all in Preston County.
Whether you are an avid or average golfer, visitors will enjoy a beautiful view while playing at Alpine Lake, chosen by Golf Traveler magazine as a top-50 “scenic & friendly” destination in the U.S. If would like a bit of a challenge, golfers can play Preston Country Country Club, one of the state’s longest golf courses.
West Virginia University, a short drive away, features Big 12 athletics during the academic year. See WVU compete with some of the top programs in the country in their respective sports, located in Morgantown, WV.
Your recipe for soaking up fun includes just one ingredient … water! And Greater Preston has more than its share of H2 Ohhh!
Beautifully transparent mountain streams and long, lazy rivers are perfect for canoeing, whitewater rafting, fishing, and kayaking. The Cheat River and Big Sandy Creek have become prime locations for whitewater rafting and kayaking enthusiasts, producing rapids ranging from class III to class V. For beginners wanting to experience a similar thrill, Little Sandy is more your game.
Avid Fishermen will want to check out the Cabela’s King Kat Fishing Tournament & Kid’s Fishing Rodeo and the WV Bass Tournament. Anglers love the backwaters of Little Sandy Creek and Cheat Lake!
Jet ski or relax on your motorboat for miles and miles along the Cheat River. Don’t forget to bring the tubes and skis!
Go ahead, dive into the mystery, magic and exhilaration of Preston County’s beautiful waterways!