This trail provides a nice break if you've been driving I-68 a couple of hours. From the Coopers Rock exit, take Rt. 73 east to the bottom of the mountain. Just before the bridge, there is a small gravel parking lot with two signs, both difficult to see from the road. A third sign, a few feet into the trail, is overgrown with autumn olive. After navigating around a large rock, you come to a bridge with rotten-looking floor boards. We crossed this bridge without difficulty by staying over the supporting logs. At the junction we turned left and walked uphill gradually through a very nice hardwood forest. After about half a mile, we came to another junction. At 5:30 PM without a map, we thought it was best to turn right and walk downhill along the creek. We passed through an old stand of hemlocks. While I'm not sure if they are virgin timber, it was one of the oldest and healthiest hemlock groves I've seen in a while. At the bottom of the hill we thought we might be looking at a spot where hikers could ford the creek, possibly walking upstream to connect with the trail we didn't take. A few feet later, a sharp right turn took us back to approach trail. We walked about a mile overall.
The loop was much better maintained than the approach. We wondered if this trail has had inappropriate use, if it's a "best kept secret," or if it's primarily a WVU classroom for forestry students. I'd love to find a map and see if this connects with any other trails.
Hemlock Trail (aka Virgin Hemlock Trail) and Tyrone Trail loop. This was actually two trails to make a complete loop. These trails are located about 10 miles outside of Morgantown, WV at the Coopers Rock exit (opposite side of the interstate from the main overlook). The trail is right off the road and it does have a sign indicating its presence, but otherwise you probably would not see it driving by. These are small trails that total about 2.5 miles all together. It's a very easy trail to hike though you will have to step over some large boulders and fallen trees at some points. The trail is rated as easy and I would agree. Though this is supposed to be a white blazed trail, I did not see a single blaze. There were a few cairns (small stacks of rocks) but they were few and far between. The trail is easy to follow up until you cross a relatively substantial but still rickety bridge (small but more than just a few boards) over Laurel Run. Once you pass this bridge the trail comes to a T-intersection. The directions I had were unclear and without a blaze or decent map I spent at least 15 minutes trying to guess which way to go. Finally, I took a guess and decided to turn right which immediately cuts back to parallel another stream. Continue to follow this trail for a while until you come to a Y-intersection with a large cairn. Again, I just took a guess and took the trail to my left (which happened to work out) and that lead me back to the bridge. The entire hike only took about an hour but with more time I probably would've explored some of the other options in side trails. It, of course, is a beautiful hike. There's a lot of variation in vegetation from rhododendrons to ferns to cleared forested area with tall hemlock trees. Plus, there are several streams with small falls that add the sound of water. It's a great place for a quiet, secluded hike unlike some of the more popular trails across the interstate. Plus, its short, sweet, and easy.