Mon Forest Towns Motorcycle Tour
Today, an approximate 1.3 million visitors come to the Monongahela National Forest each year. It is a place where visitors can enjoy breathtaking landscapes, peaceful county roads through the mountains and valleys of West Virginia, gentle flowing streams and rivers, and glimpses of diverse plants and wildlife. The Mon Forest Towns Motorcycle Tour will weave you in and out of the ten gateway towns, the Monongahela National Forest, and limitless opportunities to experience outdoor recreation and iconic natural attractions during your adventure ride. You’ll notice that all ten towns have unique characteristics and stories that intrinsically connect them to the Forest at differing terrains, elevations, and historically periods.
Known as the Basecamp of Monongahela National Forest, the City of Elkins makes it easy to play in the mountains while staying in luxury. Located on the western edge of the Forest, Elkins embodies the spirit of the rugged eastern frontier and provides easy access to numerous outdoor recreation activities. A lively downtown offers an amazing array of non-chain independent restaurants and a variety of accommodations like hotels, museums, specialty shops, microbreweries, and coffeehouses.
Leaving Elkins you will travel through the rolling hills and farmland on US-219N for 30 miles to the river town of Parsons. Head northeast on US-219 N towards Thomas. Meander up Backbone Mountain with hairpin turns galore. Once on top of the mountain, the road follows along a high ridge overlooking Tucker County. There is a scenic overlook to to pull off and take in the views during any season.
As you continue on your ride, the road will drop you into the artsy town of Thomas. Depending on when you started your trip, this is a great place for a coffee, a bite to eat, and a stroll around the town to experience the variety of shops and art galleries. Turn left onto WV-32 S and just 3 miles away, is the Mon Forest Town of Davis. Both Davis and Thomas are unique in their own ways offering different types of eateries, breweries, and shops as well as bountiful outdoor recreation opportunities. Visit the iconic 57-foot falls at Blackwater Falls State Park and drive through to see a few of the park’s other features like Elakala Falls, Lindy Point, and Pendleton Point overlooks.
After visiting Davis, travel back towards Thomas and turn left on US-48. This will be the only time you will be on a highway on this portion of the tour. Go around 30 miles and take the Patterson Creek exit to go to Petersburg. Petersburg is the eastern-most gateway town to recreation adventure in the Forest.
From Petersburg, follow US-220 S towards Franklin. Some of the states most iconic scenery is nearby including the highest point in West Virginia, Spruce Knob, and the 900 feet vertical natural rock formation, Seneca Rocks.
Shorter Alternate Route Option: If you want to set up basecamp in Elkins and stay here for the night, this alternate option takes you back to Elkins finishing the northern portion of the trip. Head west on US-33 towards Judy Gap. Nearby will be Spruce Knob. Continue to Seneca Rocks for about 23 miles. Turn left to stay on US-33 W and go over the mountains back to Elkins continuing on US-33W. Start the adventure the next day and head towards the town of Marlinton via US-219S.
To continue to complete the longer portion of the tour, you will begin to travel into the southern portion of the Monongahela National Forest. From Franklin head west on US-33 towards Judy Gap for 13 miles. Turn left on WV-28 S. Stay on WV-28 S for 24 miles. Turn left onto WV-28 S / WV-92 S for 15 miles making your way through the rural town of Greenbank. The Green Bank is a national radio quiet zone and home to the largest fully steerable telescope in the world. The Green Bank Science Center is a stop well worth your time. Take a right to stay onto WV-28 S for another 15 miles and take another right onto WV-39 W as you enter into the town of Marlinton.
Our suggestion is taking a break from the adventure for the day and staying in the town of Marlinton if you have chosen not to make basecamp in Elkins. Marlinton has a variety of restaurants, lodging, and one-of-a-kind retail stores. This is a great halfway point in the Mon Forest Town Motorcycle Tour.
Now that you are rested for the night, it’s time to complete the rest of the tour. From Marlinton, turn right onto on WV-39 E for 13 miles. In Minnehaha Springs, turn right onto WV-92 S towards the White Sulphur Springs for 31 miles. White Sulphur Springs is located near the famous and historic Greenbrier Resort. The town serves as a hub for the southern end of the Forest.
In order to get to the next Mon Forest Town, you will want head southwest on US-60 W towards I-64 W. Merge onto the interstate towards Beckley. Remain on I-64 W for 19 miles and take exit 156 for US-60 W towards Richwood. Continue on WV-20 N for 43 miles. The town of Richwood is a great stop for a bite to eat at the Whistle Punk Grill and Taphouse. Only about 22.5 miles away is the last Mon Forest Town on the tour called Cowen before heading back to Elkins. Make your way onto WV-55 W and continue for about 13 miles. Turn right onto WV-20 N and follow this for 4.7 miles. Take a left to stay on WV-20 N for 5 miles to the historic town of Cowen.
Now that you have visited all 10 Mon Forest Towns, iconic attractions of the region, and enjoyed the beautiful landscape of West Virginia mountains, valleys, countryside, and farmlands, it’s time to make your way back to the basecamp of Elkins. From Cowen turn right onto WV-20 N towards Webster Springs. Follow WV-20 N for 14 miles. Turn right onto WV-15 E and continue for 30 miles. Once you reach Valley Head, you will come to a T in the road, turn left to follow US-219 N for 13 miles towards Huttonsville. You will come to another T in the road, and turn left again to stay on US-219 N for another 18.5 miles back to Elkins.
Download the Mon Forest Town Motorcycle Tour brochure and #RideRandy.