North Fork Mountain - Cabins, West Virginia

July 13, 2015

Written by Paul van Valkenburgh

North Fork Mountain is awesome! If you like beautiful views and awesome rock formations, you will love this hike.


North Fork Mountain is in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. This report covers a 9.6 mile section (done as a shuttle) hike starting at the Redman Run trailhead and ending at the Northern end of the trail. The entire North Fork Mountain trail is a 25 mile ridge trail. The South End of the trail is near Seneca Rocks, WV and the North End is near Petersburg, WV. The best part about this version of the hike is that the features and views continue to build as you go along.


From the Redman Run trailhead it is an easy slope up to the ridge. Follow an old mountain road for a way, and then the single track trail cuts off to the right. As soon as you reach the ridge, the views are available anytime! Just go about 20 feet to the Western side of the mountain and you will be looking over a cliff across to the adjacent mountain range which includes the Dolly Sods area.


The first Westerly overlook - looking left (Southwest)


Looking straight out to the West of the 1st overlook


Looking North toward the summit from the 1st overlook


Sheri in front of some wild flowers ... lookin' good!


First Overlook - North Fork Mountain, Cabins, WV



The ridge trail is easy hiking with nice pines and rhododendrums. After 2.75 miles along the ridge, you come to a unique rock formation near summit of the mountain. The formations have some breaks in the rock that are like windows. Through these windows you can look over cliffs and out across the mountain ranges to the West.


Neat rock formation near the summit


Close up of the rock formation near the summit


Window in the rock formation near the summit


Everybody checking out the view through the Windows


Looking Through Chimneys At Summit Rock - North Fork Mountain, Cabins, WV



Views Anytime From Quick Hike To Ridge - North Fork Mountain, Cabins, WV



After about another mile on the ridge trail, to the left is the awesome Table Rock. This overlook is so beautiful it is stunning. It's as if when they formed the mountain they said "why don't we put this beautiful little overlook station here that you can walk right up to!". We saw the Peregrin Falcons flying in and out of their nest as we gazed from the overlook.


The Table Rock overlook is incredible


Ben, Greta, and Bill spot the Peregrine Falcon from the Table Rock overlook


Table Rock Overlook - North Fork Mountain, Cabins, WV



After the Table Rock, you come to another overlook, where you can see the giant wall of rocks looking towards the North towards Chimney Top.


At this overlook after Table Rock you can first see the giant wall of rocks


An overlook after Table Rock looking North begins to show the giant wall of rocks with Chimney Top in the distance


After the Table Rock, one way to continue is a sort of bushwhack along the top of the ridge


As you continue on another mile, watch for a cairn on the left. Or alternatively, you can stick more towards the top of the mountain in a bit of a nice bushwack through some 'sort of' trails. Make your way to the Chimney Top! It is hard to describe how cool the Chimney Top is. There are these wrinkly rock towers that are just huge! There is a fairly easy way to get on top of one of the main chimneys. The views are just gorgeous. As you look back where you came from, you see the long cliff walls that have paralleled the ridge.


The Chimney Top!


Just bewildering!


Chimney Top (of the World!)


A closer look at The Top


A closer look at The Top


Nice view of Chimney Top


Don't get too close to that cliff!


The proof we were on top!


From the top of one Chimney looking to the other.


Another look back.. you can see why there are so many overlooks


Then there is this wild lookin' thing


Nice mountain looking North from the Chimney Top


A perfect place to hang out and take a break


Hey Mom... look, I'm on the Chimney Top!


Arriving at Chimney Top - North Fork Mountain (return trip in April 2016)



From The Top Of Chimney Top - North Fork Mountain, Cabins, WV



Looking At Chimney Top - North Fork Mountain, Cabins, WV



On the 3 mile trak down, there are even more views to the left and out to a cool looking mountain on the north end of the trail.


Another cool overlook on the way down!


The views just keep on comin'!


View looking down towards Smoke Hole Caverns


Looking Northwest from the last overlook


Last Overlook - North Fork Mountain, Cabins, WV



The North Fork Mountain Sign


Overall, this is a moderately strenuous hike. However, the switchbacks down to the North end of the hike are long, especially at the end of the day. It took us 8 hours but that was because we took so much time enjoying all of the overlooks! It could be completed in far less time.


Landis Trail - A different option to get to the better overlooks on North Fork Mountain is to use the Landis Trail. The trail is closer (about 2 miles) to the north end of Smoke Hole Road off Route 28 than is the Redman Run trailhead (about 9 miles). The nice part of this trail is that you can do an out and back (without setting up a shuttle) and can still see the Table Rock overlook as well as Chimney top in about a 6 mile round trip. Because the trail is shorter than Redman Run with approximately the same elevation gain, it feels like more of a strenuous uphill. When you take the Landis trail, once you hit the main North Fork Mountain ridge trail, take a right (head North) to go to Table Rock and Chimney Top. Taking a left will take you to the top of North Fork Mountain where you can see the windows in the rock formation as described earlier in this report.


Hope this has been enjoyable and / or helpful to anyone reading it!!


Additional information about this hike can be found here:

http://www.midatlantichikes.com/id108.html

http://www.hikingupward.com/MNF/NorthForkMountain/


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