Although sometimes listed as two areas, Laurel Fork Wilderness straddles the Laurel Fork of the Cheat River and only the corridor of County Route 40 separates the north and south portions. The narrow river valley runs north-south below regularly dissected slopes and long, slim ridges, fed by numerous side streams. Immediately to the east stands Rich Mountain; to the west looms Middle Mountain, with elevations over 3,700 feet. An almost continuous forest cover dominated by beech, maple, black cherry, birch, and yellow poplar is broken only by grassy meadows along the Laurel Fork itself. White-tailed deer live here with wild turkeys, bobcats, and beavers. You might occasionally spot a few black bears, although you're more likely to see some of the myriad resident bird species. You may catch native brook and brown trout in the river, but heavy brush can make casting difficult. Winters typically bring heavy snows; temperatures are pleasant in summer. The Laurel River North and Laurel River South Trails, both five miles long, follow the river from a central trailhead at Laurel Fork Campground. One side trail in the northern portion and three trails in the south--leave the Wilderness heading west to Forest Service Road 14. No trails exist on the east side of the area. In all, there are approximately 14 miles of trails in the Laurel Fork North and Laurel Fork South systems.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Laurel Fork South Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
(No official title, designates various West Virginia wildernesses) - Public law 97-466 (1/13/1983) To designate certain lands in the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia, as wilderness; and to designate management of certain lands for uses other than wilderness
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 - Public law 111-11 (3/30/2009) An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.