Perched along the Allegheny Mountains in Randolph County, Kumbrabow State Forest is West Virginia’s highest forest and the only state forest located in the county. Kumbrabow has an elevation of more than 3,000 feet above sea level encompassing 9,474 acres of forest. It is very different than any other forest around the state. Due to its high elevation, the forest stays cool year round making it the perfect mountain getaway. Outdoor enthusiasts are attracted to the natural beauty, variety of wildlife and birds, hiking trails, and fishing streams. Whether you are planning a day trip, weekend getaway, or a vacation, Kumbrabow will provide you with plenty of things to do while adventuring.
When you visit West Virginia it’s normally to get off the grid and venture into the forest. At Kumbrabow State Forest you can relax and unplug at one of the six pioneer cabins or become one with nature and set up camp at the Mill Creek Campground. Nestled among the mountain laurel, the fully furnished cabins are open from April to the first week of December. Far from ordinary, these historic cabins were built in the late 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The cabins feature stone fireplaces, wood burning kitchen stoves, gas lights, and refrigerators that will bring you and your group back to the simplicity of life from the early 1900s and semi-roughing it. The cabins do not have running water, however pit toilets are available and water can be drawn from the hand pumps found nearby. It truly is quite the rustic stay.
Flowing through the entirety of Kumbrabow State Forest is a pristine native brook trout stream called Mill Creek that many consider as one of West Virginia’s best fisheries. The swift cold waters provide many hours of good fishing. Of course, always be sure to have your West Virginia fishing license with you. There is a trail that parallels the stream from Mill Creek Falls and throughout the forest there are many access points to the stream. Mill Creek is considered one of West Virginia’s intact brook trout populations. For watersheds with intact brook populations, forest coverage is generally greater than 70% and agricultural land use is less than 15%. Mill Creek also has an intermediate to high elevation and the alkaline geology is lower providing clearer water. The forest itself has different tributaries that flow into the Elk River, Middle Fork River, Buckhannon River, and Mill Creek flows into the Tygart Valley River. Anglers come from all over to enjoy this beautiful mountain stream.
Kumbrabow is also an attractive destination for hunters. With a proper license, hunters may aim for deer, bear, turkey, bobcat and ruffed grouse. Hone in your shooting skills at the public shooting range located within the state forest and the only public range in Randolph County. Range users will find eight shooting benches with a covered shelter, and target frames and backstops at 25, 50, and 100 yards. There are also two benches accessible for physically challenged shooters and a site for archers to shoot their bow.
There is nothing like swimming in a deep, dark pool of water especially swinging from a rope swing or jumping from a waterfall. A beautiful little cascade, Mill Creek Falls, provides that perfect opportunity for you and your family to cool off during the summer heat. Although Kumbrabow doesn’t get as warm as other areas of the state due to its higher elevation, taking a dip or soaking your feet in the mountain stream is very refreshing.
Change your pace and enjoy a picnic with the family at one of the forest’s many picnic sites. All you have to do is pack a picnic lunch or dinner and find the perfect spot to eat, and we promise that won’t be hard to do with the variety of choices. The picnic sites and shelters offer picturesque places near the stream to enjoy a serene meal. Playground equipment is located at the Meatbox Picnic Area for the little ones to enjoy and there is also a large field in the picnic area to run around in, throw the frisbee or football, or set up your own picnic spot with a blanket. Picnicking at Kumbrabow will bring out all of your senses; sight (beautiful backdrops of rhododendron patches), sound (laughter, peace and quiet), smell (fresh pine, mountain air), taste (food prepared on the charcoal grill), and touch (rushing water between the toes, one with nature). Al fresco dining is so much fun!
The forest features a little over 12 miles of trails that meander along Mill Creek to beautiful waterfalls and climbs to the top of Rich Mountain for a 360-degree view overlooking the mountains and valleys below. Hiking in West Virginia’s high country will showcase the beauty graced with mountain streams and thick strands of hardwoods. Eight different trails from easy to difficult, cover the mountainside. Most of the hiking trails in Kumbrabow connect to others making for great loops. Certain trails lead to beautiful overlooks of the mountain terrain encompassing the state forest.
With all of these activities in the state forest, it will make planning your trip to our part of West Virginia a lot easier. Check out the historic Swiss village Helvetia nearby or the small town of Pickens. Experience the solitude of Randolph County.