Coopers Rock State Forest gets its name from a legend about a fugitive who hid from the law near what is now the overlook. A cooper by trade, he resumed making barrels at his new mountain hideout, selling them to people in nearby communities. He lived and worked in the forest for many years. During the Depression, between 1936 and 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built numerous structures in the forest, often using durable American chestnut wood from trees that succumbed to a blight that nearly wiped out the species. Eleven of these structures, including the rustic picnic shelters near the overlook, have been included on the National Register of Historic Places. Coopers Rock State Forest is 13 miles east of Morgantown and 8 miles west of Bruceton Mills. Its 12,713 acres are bisected by Interstate 68. Although the forest serves as a recreation and preservation area, it has a wider range of uses. West Virginia's state forests also serve as areas of publicly owned land for forestry research, timber management, and watershed and wildlife protection. The side north of Interstate 68, known as the WVU Forest, makes up the forest management area leased by the West Virginia University Division of Forestry for forestry research, teaching, and demonstration. To the south of I-68 is the main recreation area. OverlookBands of rockcliffs line the Cheat River Gorge and provide numerous overlooks. The centerpiece among these is the main overlook, which furnishes a panorama of the gorge and distant horizons. A maze of enormous boulders and cliffs fascinates hikers, and the trails are especially lovely in June when the rhododendron and mountain laurel are in bloom. Several trails wind through forest valleys and over ridges, and a number of creeks beckon the explorer. Glade Run is dammed to form a 6-acre pond that is regularly stocked with trout. The observant hiker can hear and sometimes see squirrels, chipmunks, hawks, owls, turkeys, turkey vulture, songbirds, fox and deer throughout the forest.
I really enjoyed this park. Park in the main lot by Cooper's Rock and walk 5 min to the really nice and fenced in observation area on top. A trail takes you below the rock and right through a really neat rock garden that's fun to explore. Once through that stone labyrinth you can take a trail down to a secluded beach on Cheat Lake or go uphill past an old iron furnace ruins to the road. Follow the road to the Raven Rock trail and walk a mike or so to the rock outcropping. Raven Rock is not fenced so be careful. It is the best photo spot in the park followed by Cooper's Rock. Don't miss either one. The gift store below the parking lot has great food and souvenirs, too. This was one of my favorite hikes!
Brian W. on Rock City Trail
This is a beautiful trail that gets heavy foot traffic in the tourist season. It's well marked, well maintained and is family/pet friendly. The "rock city" at the end of the trail is absolutely amazing, but beware of rattlesnakes!! This trail is one of my top three trails in the park (along with Ravens Rock and the Underlook). Don't forget about the R.C. trail when visiting Coopers Rock, you won't be disappointed!!
Easy hike for some interesting history. I have done this hike in all seasons...I like fall and snow covered winter the best. Note: during winter months you may have to park at the outer parking area. You can get to the furnace by walking down the paved road that leads to the parking area for the clay furnace trail, or you can take the off road advanced ski trail, which will lead you right to the furnace.
K T. on Rock City Trail
It's easy to lose the trail, but hard to get lost because there are so many people everywhere. The rock formations are amazing, and the walking is easy. Worth the trip.
K T. on Clay Furnace Trail
Short out-and-back hike through a beautiful forest strewn with large boulders. The furnace is huge and interesting to contemplate -- make sure to read the sign next to the furnace.