Slaty Mountain Preserve in West Virginia
Slaty Mountain Slaty Mountain Preserve in West Virginia © Kent Mason

Places We Protect

Slaty Mountain Preserve

West Virginia

This preserve features a high-quality shale barren that is home to a variety of rare species.

Covid-19 Update (April 6, 2020)

West Virginia’s public preserves remain open, with the exception of Ice Mountain Preserve. We ask all visitors to please follow any local restrictions put in place for your safety as well as guidance from the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others (social distancing).

Parking may be limited at many of our preserves. If parking areas are full, or if you find you can’t social distance at any trail or preserve, it may be best to visit the area at another time.

Thank you for helping us in our efforts to protect our visitors’ health and well-being. Together, we can each do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 so we can continue to do the important work needed in West Virginia.


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.  

What TNC 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. 

Hiking and visitation is limited to walking along this dirt road. Please respect neighboring land owners by staying on the preserve. 

  • Bring plenty of drinking water, sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses), rain gear, and bug protection. Binoculars, field guides, and a camera may be useful. 
  • Pets are not allowed on Conservancy preserves or field trips. 
  • Smoking is not permitted. 
  • Please do not remove any plants, animals, or rocks. 
  • Keep hiking limited to the dirt road crossing 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. 

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.

Support Our Work at Slaty Mountain Preserve

You can help us protect West Virginia's diverse plant and animal communities. The Nature Conservancy is working at Slaty Mountain and beyond.