The Central Appalachians region spans six states and more than 50,000 square miles of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in America. From wild, flowing rivers and rugged mountains to deep, forested valleys and frost-covered swamps, adventure is out there waiting for you.
For nearly six decades, The Nature Conservancy has been working to protect some of the most amazing public and private places in the Central Appalachians. Set out today and explore the Central Appalachians’ best outdoor destinations, brought to you in part by The Nature Conservancy:
The Nature Conservancy’s 2,000-acre Cranesville Swamp Preserve lies in a "frost pocket," where surrounding hills capture moisture and cold air to create a chilly landscape reminiscent of habitats found farther north. Just three miles from Garrett State Forest, the preserve’s five hiking trails offer views of 50 rare plant and animal species. Plan your visit.
Pack binoculars and wear sturdy hiking boots when you visit The Nature Conservancy’s 9,200-acre Warm Springs Mountain Preserve. One of the preserve’s two public trails offers an excellent introduction to forest ecology, while the other winds through Virginia’s only substantial montane pine barren—a globally rare habitat. Plan your visit.
Clinch Valley has the highest peak in Virginia (Mount Rogers) and the deepest, most lonesome hollows in the state. Whether you hike the Cumberland Gap or fish the waters of Big Cedar Creek, you’ll see firsthand the legendary landscape that inspired both the Carter Family and Ralph Stanley. Plan your visit.
The Nature Conservancy’s 2,250-acre Dick and Nancy Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain is a natural haven where birders, hikers and mountain bikers share sweeping views of the Appalachians. Once slated to be turned into a business park, the preserve is part of larger public/private effort that has protected nearly two-thirds of Moosic Mountain. Plan your visit.
Located in the Pennsylvania Wilds. The Nature Conservancy’s West Branch Forest boasts incredible views stretching for 50 miles. Rugged mountainous hillsides support a diversity of wildlife and recreational opportunities including hiking, birding, hunting and fishing. West Branch also serves as one of the Conservancy’s primary research and demonstration properties. Plan your visit.
You don’t need to trod the toughest hiking trail to decide if Bad Branch State Nature Preserve is the most spectacular natural area in Kentucky. A moderate-level hike will get you to Bad Branch Gorge and its stunning 60-foot waterfall, the showpiece of this 2,639-acre preserve in the heart of Pine Mountain. Plan your visit.
The Conservancy has just added a third public preserve along the Obed River, an outdoorsman’s paradise, with 45 miles of waters—including whitewater runs ranging from Class II to Class IV—nearly 20 miles of hiking trails and 350 bolted climbing routes, including bouldering and sport climbing at two Conservancy preserves. And for anglers, the river is flush with bluegill, smallmouth bass and catfish. Plan your visit.
Time stands still at the 477-acre Bear Rocks Preserve, a cornerstone of West Virginia’s spectacular Dolly Sods landscape. With stunted red spruce, ancient bogs and forlorn boulders, this Conservancy preserve offers enchanting trails and amazing overlooks from which to bird watch. Plan your visit.
The New River boasts waters that have sliced deep into the Appalachian Mountains to create a spectacular canyon, crowned by lush forest. Whitewater rafting is the main draw here, but visitors can also camp, fish, rock climb, mountain bike and—for the very adventuresome—base-jump off the New River Gorge bridge. Plan your visit.