Why You Should Visit
Slaty Mountain Preserve is comprised of a dry hardwood and pine woodland including a globally rare shale barren community. The primary feature of the preserve is the high quality shale barren that is habitat to many rare species. The small dirt road accessing the preserve cuts across the shale barren community, allowing good views of the shale barren species and surrounding mountains. Hiking and visitation is limited to walking along this dirt road. All the shale barren species can be seen from the road side. Late summer (after mid August) is the best time to see the shale barren plants in bloom.
Central Appalachian Forest Ecoregion
Monroe County, West Virginia
Forty minutes southeast of Lewisburg, WV
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
This preserve was given to the Conservancy as a generous gift from the MeadWestvaco Corporation. After acquiring the preserve, Conservancy volunteers cleaned a large trash dump on the preserve.
What to Expect
The Nature Conservancy's Slaty Mountain Preserve is open year-round during daylight hours to the public for hiking and nature study. Parking is limited to wide spaces found along the dirt road into the preserve. This road has very little daily vehicle traffic. Hiking and visitation is limited to walking along this dirt road. Please respect neighboring land owners by staying on the preserve. Admission is free.
What to See: Plants
Slaty Mountain shale barrens are habitat to many shale barren endemic species. These are species that are restricted to steep, dry, south-facing, shale slopes and limited in distribution to the central Appalachian Mountains. Shale barren endemics include such species as yellow buckwheat (Eriogonum alleni), Allegheny plum (Prunus alleghaniensis), and Kate’s Mountain clover (Trifolium virginicum). In total, 13 shale barren endemic species are known from this preserve. Most of these species can be observed by walking the road crossing the preserve.
What to See: Animals
Many common bird species can be observed from the road traversing the preserve. This preserve is a good place to see and hear the blue-headed vireo, red-eyed vireo, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, blue-gray gnatcatcher, chestnut-sided warbler, black and white warbler, indigo buntings, and many other species. Due to the warm southern aspect and dry arid conditions of shale barrens, these habitats are especially good habitat for a large variety of butterflies. Fence lizards are also commonly observed basking on exposed rocks and tree trunks at this preserve.
Please help us maintain this unique natural environment by taking home everything that you bring, including biodegradable materials.
Weather conditions are often very hot during mid-day visits. Be prepared for these conditions before you visit.
From Union, WV (approximately 40 minutes):