We stumbled across Bear Heaven Recreation Area on one of our ramblings in West Virginia. We had gotten into the habit of just driving down a forest service road, or turning down a random rural road just to see where it would take us. Somehow, we ended up northeast of Elkins on a dirt road in the Otter Creek Wilderness Area -- more specifically, on Bickle Knob, which is really fun to say.
Bickle Knob. Just say it.
Bickle Knob is one of West Virginia's many 4,000-foot high mountain peaks. What makes this particular one notable is that it has an observation tower that's open to the public. Formerly a fire tower, the original cab has been removed and replaced with a wooden viewing platform. The observation tower provides 360-degree views of the surrounding area including the Shavers Fork River, Tygart Valley River valley, and the U.S. Route 33 crossing of Cheat Mountain.
We stopped to picnic at Bear Heaven and to give the boys a chance to stretch their legs after a long car ride. What made Bear Heaven so memorable were the cool rock outcroppings, which made for a wonderful playground for our kids -- and for us.
The views were awesome as well.
Bickle Knob is located at the end of Forest Route 91A, a spur from Stuart Memorial Drive (FR 91). Both roads are gravel but can easily be traversed by normal passenger cars -- we made it in our Town and Country Minivan. Stuart Memorial Drive is a scenic path as it traces the edge of the Shavers Fork canyon.
Know before you go: Please note that due to the high elevation of the area and the fact that FR 91 is not plowed in the winter, the road may be hazardous when snow is present. If you're into primitive camping, there are a number of campsites available at Bear Heaven.
Getting there: This was another fortuitous accidental daytrip! Bear Heaven Recreation Area is located about 14 miles northeast of Elkins, WV, on FR91 (Stuart Memorial Drive).
Hours: Open 24/7 between mid-April and the beginning of December.
Dogs: Of course!