Best Trails and Nature Escapes in Morgantown

Nestled on the banks of the Monongahela River in the heart of Appalachia, Morgantown, WV, offers a plethora of picturesque trails and nature escapes. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a quick getaway, Morgantown has something for everyone. From the well-known Cooper’s Rock State Forest to hidden gems like the Falling Run Greenspace, this guide will take you through some of the best trails and nature spots in and around the city. Discover the beauty of diverse landscapes, ranging from dense forests to serene lakes, all within a short drive from downtown.

Key Takeaways

  • Morgantown offers a variety of trails and nature escapes suitable for all skill levels.
  • Cooper’s Rock State Forest is a popular destination known for its stunning overlooks and extensive trail system.
  • The West Virginia Botanic Garden provides a serene setting with well-maintained gardens and scenic views.
  • Decker’s Creek Rail Trail is a versatile path perfect for walkers, runners, bikers, and skaters.
  • Hidden gems like Falling Run Greenspace offer unique features such as waterfalls and less crowded trails.

1. Cooper’s Rock State Forest

Cooper’s Rock State Forest is a cornerstone for outdoor recreation in the Morgantown area. Located just 13 miles from Morgantown, this forest offers a variety of activities including hiking, biking, climbing, camping, and even cross-country skiing. With nearly 50 miles of multi-use trails, you can explore to your heart’s content. Secure a spot at one of the two campgrounds within the forest to allow yourself more time to enjoy everything Cooper’s Rock has to offer.

One of the highlights of Cooper’s Rock is the Roadside Trail. This easy, 3-mile trail leads you from the forest entrance to the incredible Cooper’s Rock Overlook, offering some of the best views of the Cheat River Gorge. For those looking for a more vigorous hike, the Ravens Rock trail provides a challenging 4-mile trek with a beautiful overlook that is well worth the effort.

2. Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area

Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area is a serene escape to nature located just outside of Morgantown, WV. Managed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, this area focuses on habitat restoration and hunting access. The terrain is a mix of rolling hills and rocky cliffs, offering a peaceful retreat for nature lovers.

One of the most popular hikes here is the Cheat View overlook. This hike can be done as a ~2 mile out-and-back or as part of a larger 6.6 mile loop that visits several prominent overlooks. When you’re at one of these overlooks, see if you can spot Cooper’s Rock Overlook or Raven Rock across the gorge!

Keep in mind that Snake Hill is a wildlife management area. Check the local hunting seasons and avoid this area when hunters are about. If you must visit during hunting season, make sure you wear blaze orange and keep any pets on a leash.

3. West Virginia Botanic Garden

The West Virginia Botanic Garden is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and pet owners seeking a peaceful retreat. Just a ten-minute drive from downtown Morgantown, this 82-acre haven offers a variety of habitats, including wetlands, meadows, and a virgin hemlock forest. Scenic views abound, with well-maintained gardens showcasing stunning plant species around a reflective pond. Whether you’re interested in a leisurely stroll or a more in-depth exploration, the Botanic Garden provides a serene escape into nature.

4. Decker’s Creek Rail Trail

The Decker’s Creek Rail Trail is a fantastic way to explore Morgantown’s natural beauty. Starting at Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, the trail stretches over 19 miles, following the scenic Deckers Creek upstream with an elevation change of 1,000 feet. Walkers, runners, bikers, and skaters are all welcome, and the trail is pet-friendly as long as your furry friends are leashed. The path transitions from paved sections in the heart of Morgantown to well-maintained pea gravel as you move towards the outskirts.

As you pass through Sabraton, you can take a break at the Marilla skate park or the dog park. The trail offers a secluded experience with beautiful hardwoods, hemlock, rhododendron, and rock outcroppings lining the way. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful walk or an adventurous bike ride, Decker’s Creek Rail Trail has something for everyone.

5. WVU Core Arboretum

The WVU Core Arboretum is a serene escape from the hustle and bustle within Morgantown city limits. Nestled between Monongahela Boulevard and the Monongahela River, this 91-acre haven offers a variety of natural habitats along its 3.5 miles of trails. Several hundred species of native West Virginia trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are scattered throughout the Arboretum, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts.

Visitors are welcome every day from dawn to dusk, and the Arboretum serves as an outdoor facility for education, research, and recreation. Whether you’re looking to explore the diverse plant life or simply enjoy a peaceful walk, the WVU Core Arboretum has something for everyone.

6. White Park

White Park is a beloved green space in Morgantown, perfect for both walking and biking. The Blue Diamond Trail Loop is a standout feature, offering a roughly 3-mile path that winds around the Coburn Creek reservoir. This trail is well-maintained with a mix of gravel and dirt, making it accessible for all skill levels. One of the park’s hidden gems is the pseudo waterfall created by the reservoir, providing a serene spot for relaxation.

For those looking for a quick escape into nature without leaving the city, White Park is an excellent choice. The trails are usually well-trafficked, ensuring a safe environment for solo adventurers. Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely stroll or a more vigorous bike ride, this park has something to offer.

7. Falling Run Greenspace

Falling Run Greenspace Morgantown

If you’re looking for a quick after-work or weekend hike to boost your mood, Falling Run Greenspace is a fantastic option. This urban oasis, opened just two years ago, is conveniently accessible from Outlook Street, making it practically downtown. With its planned five miles of trails, more than half of which are already complete, it’s a great spot to relieve stress and enjoy nature. It boasts the only waterfalls in town, adding to its charm and appeal.

8. Marilla Park

Marilla Park is a versatile destination in Morgantown, offering a variety of activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re looking to skate, play with your dog, or simply enjoy a leisurely walk, Marilla Park has something for everyone. The park features a popular skate park and a dedicated dog park, making it a favorite spot for both skaters and pet owners.

Key Features

  • Skate Park: A well-maintained area for skateboarding enthusiasts.
  • Dog Park: A spacious area where dogs can run freely and socialize.
  • Playground: A fun and safe environment for children to play.
  • Picnic Areas: Perfect spots for family gatherings and outdoor meals.
  • Walking Trails: Scenic paths for a relaxing stroll or a brisk walk.

Marilla Park is a community hub that brings people together, offering a blend of recreational activities and natural beauty. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors in Morgantown.

9. Dorsey’s Knob Park

Just a quick five-minute drive from downtown Morgantown, Dorsey’s Knob Park offers a delightful retreat for outdoor enthusiasts. This 70-acre park is renowned for Sky Rock, a massive boulder that rises 600 feet above the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. The panoramic views from this vantage point are simply breathtaking, showcasing the valleys, towns, and farmlands below.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities here, including a disc golf course and an interactive playground. Whether you’re looking to explore parks, have a family-friendly outing, or simply take in the amazing views of Morgantown, Dorsey’s Knob Park is the perfect spot for a scenic escape.

10. Cheat Lake Trail

Cheat Lake Trail Morgantown

The Cheat Lake Trail is a scenic 4.5-mile path that meanders along the Lake Lynn shoreline. This trail is part of the Cheat Lake Park, one of the four public access points to the lake. Perfect for a family outing, the park features a man-made beach, a children’s playground, and several picnic areas.


  • Swimming and fishing access
  • Nature viewing area at the southern tip, ideal for spotting migratory water birds
  • Historical millstones from old grist mills
  • Handicapped accessible pavement

For those who enjoy water activities, the park also offers access for kayaks and boats. The trail’s peaceful setting in the backwaters makes it a great spot for a more private and serene experience.


Morgantown, WV, is a treasure trove for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. With its diverse range of trails and natural escapes, there’s something for everyone—from the serene paths of the West Virginia Botanic Garden to the rugged terrains of Cooper’s Rock State Forest. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, these trails offer the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with nature. So lace up your hiking boots, grab a friend or your furry companion, and explore the natural beauty that Morgantown has to offer. Happy trails!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the operating hours for the trails in Morgantown?

Trails in Morgantown are free and open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

Are pets allowed on Morgantown trails?

Yes, leashed pets are welcome on most trails in Morgantown.

Which trail offers the best scenic views?

The West Virginia Botanic Garden offers scenic views with amazing foliage and plants, reflecting on a large pond.

Is there a trail that runs through the heart of Morgantown?

Yes, the Decker’s Creek Rail Trail runs directly through the heart of Morgantown, from Sabraton through downtown to Star City.

Are there any trails suitable for biking and skating?

The Decker’s Creek Rail Trail is suitable for walkers, runners, bikers, and skaters.

Where can I find a trail with waterfalls in Morgantown?

The Falling Run Greenspace is the only place in town with waterfalls, making it a great spot to relieve stress and enjoy nature.

Which trail is recommended for a quick rural getaway near downtown Morgantown?

The West Virginia Botanic Garden is located just ten minutes away from downtown Morgantown and is perfect for a quick rural getaway.

Are there any lesser-known trails to avoid crowds in Morgantown?

Yes, the Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area and Falling Run Greenspace are lesser-known gems perfect for escaping the crowds.

Recent Posts