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Exploring the Northern Mountain State & Panhandle
The northern reaches and Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia are teeming with historic sites and the great outdoors. Mountain State explorers will find Harper's Ferry National Historical Park, scenic overlooks, covered bridges, and even Washington’s bathtub.
Set in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Berkeley Springs is a small yet famous town known for its mineral springs, scenic surroundings, and famous former guests – including George Washington.
Known as the “Country's First Spa,” this historic little city is best represented by the Berkeley Springs State Park. A U.S. Historic district found on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, this seven-acre park is known for its 74.3-degree Fahrenheit mineral waters – experienced through roman baths, Jacuzzis, and pools. The Berkeley Springs park also includes saunas, showers, massages – plus the Museum of the Berkeley Springs, and George Washington’s bathtub.
One you’ve dried off, Berkeley Springs yields plenty of historic sites, shopping and dining, and festivals. Be sure to see the Morgan County Observatory, the historic Bath Historic District, and the Samuel Taylor Suit Cottage – known as the Berkeley Castle. Berkeley Springs also offers a popping-off event calendar. Try to catch October’s Apple Butter Festival, March’s George Washington’s Bathtub Celebration, and the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Competition in February.
There are plenty of opportunities to explore eastern West Virginia on foot – and plenty of other ways to boot. Head to the 6,000 acre Cacapon State Park for 20 miles of hiking trail, plus swimming, fishing, horseback riding and an 18-hole golf course. More outdoor adventure near Berkeley Springs await at Eidolon Nature Preserve, the Paw Paw Tunnel, and the Spruce Pine Hollow Park.
Side Trip! Washington Heritage Trail
The Washington Heritage Trail follows the former stomping grounds of the nation’s first president, and all in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. This 136-mile drive tour touches on over 40 historic sites across three counties: Jefferson, Morgan, Berkeley. This loop tour heads southeast from Berkeley Springs on State Route 9 to Harper's Ferry National Historical Park, and complete the loop by returning via State Route 51.
If you’re looking for the scenic route into Morgantown, follow the Potomac River out of Berkeley Springs on State Route 51. Continue west for 180 miles until you reach Morgantown.
Morgantown features plenty of cultural stops throughout town. Wander through the Core Arboretum, or check out the Metropolitan Theatre and the Monongalia Arts Center.
Set on the Monongahela River, Morgantown is a historic town and home of West Virginia University. Sports fan can check out the West Virginia Mountaineers at the WVU campus, at either Mountaineer Field or WVU Coliseum.
Spanning nearly 13,000 acres, Coopers Rock State Forest is located just east of Morgantown by way of Interstate 68. The forest is known for 50 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. Coopers Rock also yields historic sites like the Henry Clay Iron Furnace, and its many American chestnut picnic shelters. The forest is also known for its overlooks of the Cheat River Valley, including the Raven Rock Overlook and the Cheat Canyon Overlook.
Take the less busy route out of Morgantown on US Route 119 and US Route 50 – traveling south about 50 miles to Bridgeport while passing Tygart Lake State Park.
This being Bridgeport, you might need to check out some bridges. Check out the Bridgeport Lamp Chimney Company Bowstring Concrete Arch Bridge – built in 1924 and found on the NRHP. If you're near Meadowbrook Mall, keep your cameras ready for the Simpson Creek Covered Bridge, one of county’s two remaining covered bridges.
Bridgeport also features some great agritourism spots. Be sure to visit Kross Kreek Farms for some handmade candles – not to mention horseback rides – and West Virginia Fruit & Berry for some fresh preserves. For one stop shopping, check out the Bridgeport Farmers Market, held at Charles Pointe every Sunday from May through October. The fun starts at 10 a.m., wraps up at 2 p.m., and features local produce, handmade crafts, and lots of local folks.
Bridgeport is also home to the award-winning Pete Dye Golf Club – an 18-hole golf course established in 1995. This Par 72 course features 7,308 yards of golf. For more golf in Bridgeport, try the 18-hole Signature Arnold Palmer championship golf course at Stonewall Lake State Park.