Best Tent Camping: West Virginia: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

Best Tent Camping: West Virginia: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

by Johnny Molloy

Paperback(Third Edition)

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Perfect Camping for You in West Virginia!

From the Allegheny Highlands to the Feudin' Country of the Hatfields and McCoys, camping in West Virginia has never been better. Best Tent Camping: West Virginia, now in its third edition, is a guidebook for tent campers who like quiet, scenic, and serene campsites. It's the perfect resource if you blanch at the thought of pitching a tent on a concrete slab, trying to sleep through the blare of another camper's boombox, or waking up to find your tent surrounded by a convoy of RVs.

In Best Tent Camping: West Virginia, outdoor adventurer Johnny Molloy guides readers to the quietest, most beautiful, most secure, and best-managed campgrounds in the Mountain State. Painstakingly selected from hundreds of campgrounds, each campsite is rated for beauty, noise, privacy, security, spaciousness, and cleanliness.

Each campground profile gives unbiased and thorough evaluations, taking the guesswork out of finding the perfect site.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780897324953
Publisher: Menasha Ridge Press
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Series: Best Tent Camping
Edition description: Third Edition
Pages: 184
Sales rank: 779,827
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Johnny Molloy is a writer and adventurer based in Johnson City, TN. He has written more than 40 books about the outdoors, including hiking guidebooks, camping guidebooks, paddling guidebooks, comprehensive guidebooks about a specific area, and true outdoor adventure books throughout the Eastern United States. Molloy writes for varied magazines and websites, and he is a columnist and feature writer for his local paper, the Johnson City Press. He continues writing and traveling extensively throughout the United States, endeavoring in a variety of outdoor pursuits.

Read an Excerpt

Bear Heaven

Beauty: 5 stars / Privacy: 3 stars / Spaciousness: 4 stars / Quiet: 5 stars / Security: 3 stars / Cleanliness: 4 stars

The 20,000-acre Otter Creek Wilderness is just minutes away from this small, secluded campground with a great view.

Bear Heaven, P.O. Box 368, Parsons, WV 26287
OPERATED BY: U.S. Forest Service
CONTACT: 304-478-3251,
OPEN: Late April–November
SITE AMENITIES: Picnic table, fire grate, lantern post
ASSIGNMENT: First come, first served; no reservations
REGISTRATION: Self-registration on-site
FACILITIES: Vault toilets
PARKING: At campsites only
FEE: $5 per night
ELEVATION: 3,600 feet
On leash only
FIRES: In fire grates only
ALCOHOL: At campsites only
OTHER: 14-day stay limit

Bear Heaven lies on a spur ridge high on Shavers Mountain outside Elkins. It can be pretty cool on summer nights. I can only imagine how cold it is during the shoulder seasons. Most tent campers will head up this way during the warmer months to enjoy a small, quiet campground tucked away on the back side of the Otter Creek Wilderness.

The Otter Creek drainage forms the centerpiece of this preserved national forest land. Mountain ridges are the borders, where spruce stands and bogs hold strong. Lower in the wilderness are tangles of rhododendron over which grow Northern hardwood species, such as cherry and yellow birch. This area was once logged, and many trails follow old railroad grades. In other areas, apple trees mark homesites long since abandoned. On the edge of this wilderness, Bear Heaven campground awaits your arrival.

What does this mean for you? It means a great place to explore the heart of natural West Virginia, where the woods are king. After a day’s hiking and sightseeing, you can return to your ridgetop camp and reflect on the day’s sights. (One of those observations will be what a fitting campground this is to be adjacent to the Otter Creek Wilderness. Another might literally be a lookout—from atop the jumbled rock outcrop near the campground picnic area, where you can gaze south over a sea of wooded ridges.)

Leave the spur road off Stuart Memorial Drive and enter Bear Heaven Recreation Area. To your right is the picnic area and rock outcrop. This spur ridge is level by mountain standards and covered in a Northern hardwood forest dominated by beech and cherry trees. The canopy thickens in summer, with an understory of sugar maple and striped maple. After the leaves fall, you can better see the numerous gray boulders strewn about the campground like toy blocks tossed around a room.

Three sites occupy the main road. Log borders keep campers where they ought to be. The campsites are dispersed and large, even though this spur ridge is narrow. There are winter views into the woods below. Some less-than-level sites have tent pads.

Entering a five-campsite loop, sites 4 and 5, the two prettiest and most used, are integrated into the boulder-dominated landscape. Swing around the loop and pass the final few campsites. This small camp- ground has only eight units, offering the good and bad of small campgrounds: intimate yet easily packed with campers. Bear Heaven fills during midsummer weekends and traditional summer holidays. Any other time, you should have no problem getting a campsite.

There are no trails leaving directly from the campground, other than the short walk to the rock outcrop by the picnic area, but there is a whole wilderness just to the north. Less than a mile away, on Forest Service Road 303, which you passed on the way in, lies the main trailhead for the southern side of the Otter Creek Wilderness. The area’s 20,000 acres of rocky ridges and rhododendron-lined creeks, along with its wildlife, have thrived under wilderness protection since 1975.

Here, you can start the upper end of the Otter Creek Trail. This 11-mile footpath is the backbone of the trail system. Several loop hikes can be made using a combination of trails. One circuit starts north down the Otter Creek Trail and turns right on the Mylius Gap Trail. Climb up to Mylius Gap; then turn right on the Shavers Mountain Trail and follow it for 4.3 miles to the Hedrick Camp Trail. Turn right here and you’ll soon intersect the Otter Creek Trail for a 9.4-mile loop.

Or start at the top of Otter Creek Trail and walk 4.4 miles down to Pothole Falls, Otter Creek’s tallest fall. Then return the way you came. To stay in the high country, start at Alpena Gap near US 33 and walk out along the Shavers Mountain Trail.

Even as remote as Bear Heaven seems, the fully equipped town of Elkins is just 10 miles away, in case you need supplies or any civilized trappings. Between Elkins and Bear Heaven is the Bowden Fish Hatchery. If you have never visited a hatchery, check it out. There are fish of all sizes swimming in the tanks. It may inspire you to take a rod down to Otter Creek and toss a line for the native brook trout lying secretively in the cool pools.


From Elkins, drive east on US 33 for 11.5 miles to Stuart Memorial Drive (FR 91) at Alpena Gap on Shavers Mountain. Turn left on FR 91 and follow it 1.1 miles; then veer left, staying on FR 91. Continue on FR 91 for 1.5 miles to Bear Heaven Campground, which will be on your left.

GPS COORDINATES: N38º 55.841' W79º 40.827'

Table of Contents

West Virginia Overview Map

Overview Map Key

Best Campgrounds





  • Bear Heaven
  • Bishop Knob
  • Blue Bend
  • Cranberry
  • Day Run
  • Horseshoe
  • Island
  • Kumbrabow State Forest
  • Lake Sherwood
  • Laurel Fork
  • Pocahontas
  • Seneca State Forest
  • Spruce Knob Lake
  • Summit Lake
  • Tea Creek
  • Watoga State Park


  • Big Bend
  • Blackwater Falls State Park
  • Brandywine Lake
  • Camp Run
  • Hawk
  • Red Creek
  • Seneca Shadows
  • Sleepy Creek WMA
  • Trout Pond
  • Wolf Gap


  • Beech Fork State Park
  • Cabwaylingo State Forest
  • Chief Logan State Park
  • Guyandotte
  • Kanawha State Forest
  • Panther WMA


  • Audra State Park
  • Bakers Run
  • Bulltown
  • Cedar Creek State Park
  • Coopers Rock State Forest
  • Holly River State Park
  • Pleasant Creek WMA


  • Army Camp
  • Babcock State Park
  • Bluestone State Park
  • Brooklyn
  • Camp Creek State Park and Forest
  • Glade Creek
  • Greenbrier State Forest
  • Moncove Lake State Park


  • Lewis Wetzel WMA
  • North Bend State Park
  • Tomlinson Run State Park


Appendix A: Camping Equipment Checklist

Appendix B: Sources of Information


About the Author

Map Legend

Customer Reviews