Nestled alongside the Allegheny Highlands atop Richard Mountain sits West Virginia's highest state forest. Kumbrabow State Forest, with its impressive 9,474 acres, rests 3,000 feet above sea level and is far from any large cities or congested freeways, making it the perfect place to park the camper and reconnect with mother nature.
The forest almost met its demise in the late 1800s due to over logging and wildfires. Luckily, because of its location and high elevation, the forest survived and has been able to regrow to impressive levels with the help of heavy rainfalls and forest management. The state forest was officially established in 1934 and has since been used for recreation, watershed protection, commercial forestry, and wildlife management.
Visitors to this scenic forest enjoy a wide array of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to fishing and hunting. The area surrounding the forest allows for day trips to charming Swiss villages and various other forests and parks, including Holly River State Park and Monongahela National Forest. There are plenty of places to visit along your route to Kumbrabow State Forest, so you won't have to worry about running out of places to explore or things to see from the window of your motorhome or conversion van. Once you get to the park, head over to Kumbrabow's RV-friendly campground, with 13 sites available for rigs up to 60 feet in length.
Located in northeastern West Virginia in Randolph County, Kumbrabow State Forest is easily accessible off of US-219. The forest is certainly off the beaten path, and though the road into the forest is paved, it presents jagged turns and an increase in elevation. Those maneuvering big rigs should exercise extreme caution when navigating this four-mile stretch. Although it may seem daunting, if you take it slow, you should have no problem reaching the forest. Once inside the park, roads remain wide and paved for easy maneuverability to the campground, cabins, and the forest headquarters.
The forest does not offer much in terms of additional parking, so those with RVs should plan to park at camp and explore either by foot or via bicycle. This way, you'll be able to enjoy all the scenic vistas without a windshield to impede your view.
Although Kumbrabow State Forest is fairly remote, the campground provides 13 RV and trailer friendly sites for guests. No hookups of any kind are available, and maximum length restrictions vary by site between 30 feet and 60 feet. Parking pads are gravel and require you to back in or pull through to the site. Sites are equipped with a picnic table and a fire ring, and pit toilets and a bathhouse are located nearby. Guests will also find a hiking trail and scenic lookout not far from their campsite. The campground is open from April through September, weather permitting, and reservations can be made in advance.
If all 13 sites are unavailable at Kumbrabow State Forest, there are various other RV friendly campgrounds nearby. Monongahela National Forest is about an hour to the east, while Holly River State Park sits about an hour to the west. The former offers electric hookups at 13 RV friendly sites, while the remaining 100 sites are basic without any hookups. The latter offers 88 electrical sites, along with a dump station and laundry facilities.
Kumbrabow State Forest also offers six camping cabins available for those looking to leave the RV behind for a night or two. These Pioneer Cabins are rustic in the sense that they have no electricity or running water. But doesn't mean you'll be wanting for amenities. The cabins are equipped with a gas refrigerator, gas lights, a stone fireplace, and a wood-burning stove. A hand pump water well can be found outside, along with an outhouse and a grill. The cabins are fully furnished, and five of the cabins can accommodate up to four guests, while the sixth cabin is ADA accessible and can accommodate up to eight. Reservations are required and can be made online in advance.
If you're looking for a fun day trip from the forest, hop in the Sprinter and head to Helvetia. The destination is located just over half an hour from the campground; this charming Swiss village will have you feeling like you stepped back in time. Swiss and German settlers landed here in the late 1800s, and the residents of this mountain valley town still indulge in the traditions of their ancestors. You'll experience Swiss and German dance, music, and food when you visit, along with friendly citizens and unique architecture.
Lace-up your hiking boots and explore the forest on foot. Eight hiking trails traverse through the area, and you could easily spend a whole day, or even weekend, trekking the forest. For a quick and easy hike, check out Clay Run Trial. This 1.5-mile round-trip trail will lead you along an old logging railroad to the top of Mill Ridge. For a more challenging route, hikers should head to Rich Mountain Fire Trail. This moderate trail measures three and a half miles in length one way and will take you to the highest point in the forest, Buck Knob, at an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet!
With multiple streams and rivers running through the area, Kumbrabow State Forest is an angler's paradise. Mill Creek is one of the favorite fishing spots in the forest as it is full of native brook trout. You won't be able to fry up your catch back at the rig, however, as fishing is only allowed on a catch and release basis. Before casting out, be sure you are up to date with a current West Virginia fishing license and stamps.
There's no better thrill than mountain biking through the mountainous landscape of Kumbrabow State Forest on a crisp autumn day. Eight trails cut through the forest, and bikers can also ride along the paved forest roads. The Mill Ridge Fire Trail is an easy trail perfect for mountain biking, and once you reach the top of Mill Ridge, you can enjoy a scenic picnic overlooking Tygart Valley. For the more hardcore riders, we suggest the Potato Hole Trail. This difficult route starts behind the Forest Headquarters and ends after a gradual incline at the remains of a forest fire lookout tower.
Geocaching is a great way to get out of the motorhome for a day, and the whole family will love it. This outdoor activity involves using a GPS-enabled device to search for hidden treasure. The geocache swag is usually found in a metal container and could be anything from pencil erasers to stickers to coins. You'll often find a log in the container as well, so bring a writing utensil to sign your name, and don't forget to bring some of your own swag along to replace what you take. Two caches are hidden in Kumbrabow State Forest for this modern-day treasure hunt.
Feel free to bring your hunting gear along in the Airstream because Kumbrabow State Forest is the perfect place to take aim and catch some dinner. Hunting is allowed in various places throughout the forest, so be sure to grab a map or talk to a park ranger before beginning your hunt. The forest is teeming with wildlife, and if you're lucky, you'll spot deer, bear, turkey, bobcat, and ruffed grouse. A current West Virginia hunting license is required for all visitors hoping to hunt in the forest.