The George Washington National Forest, of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, is comprised of 959,414 acres in Virginia and 104,866 acres in West Virginia. The Forest extends from near Winchester, VA in the north to Covington, VA in the south. It surrounds the Shenandoah Valley, which is comprised of forested mountains and valleys. It is the closest National Forest to Washington, D.C. There are 25 developed campgrounds of which 15 meet the selection criteria.
The George Washington National Forest is a place of history, both ancient and modern, of gentle beauty and rugged splendor, mountain passes, sun-dappled dells and wide valleys. It is a place of quiet contemplation and physical challenges. The variety of recreational opportunities is limited only by a visitors imagination. And the Forest's numerous camping locations can accommodate car, tent, recreational vehicle (RV) and motoring camping enthusiasts. In other words, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this delightful Forest.
The George Washington National Forest is composed of six districts, each with its own distinctive character. The Lee District, located closest to Washington, D.C., was selected by President Roosevelt for the first Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp. Campers at the Camp Roosevelt campground can explore the foundations and footings of the old CCC camp's buildings. The area around Elizabeth Furnace campground offers a variety of activities but hiking is possibly the favorite. Civil War buffs can, from the campground, hike to the top of Signal Knob (known as "Three Top Mountain" before the Civil War), explore the old stone fortifications and understand the importance of this strategic spot.
The Deerfield District features Ramseys Draft Wilderness, Confederate Breastworks and some great hikes for spectacular views of the region. Dry River District, which straddles West Virginia and Virginia and is just west of Harrisonburg, Virginia, offers its visitors the opportunities of staying at one of several developed camping locations, challenging the 12-mile Rocky Run ATV Complex, or matching wits with some pretty wise old fish.
Peddlar District is something of an island, located south of the Shenandoah National Park and east of Interstate 81. The beautiful Sherando Lake is the central recreational area for this District. Sherando Lake was constructed by the CCC in the 1930s. The campground nearest the Lake still shows some of the CCC's enrollees handiwork. Outside the Sherando Lake Recreation Area, many of the streams are stocked, seasonally, with some of the best eating Rainbow Trout in the George Washington National Forest.
Lake Moomaw, a RV and motorhome-friendly camping location, is the center piece of the Bolar Recreation Complex in the Warm Springs District. The whole area is rich in local history and natural beauty. The picturesque Hidden Valley campground, located on an open pastoral river valley nestled among the Allegheny mountains, is more rustic than those at Bolar. However, for those in search of peace, tranquility, and simple natural beauty, Hidden Valley is the place.
James River Ranger District, the southern most district in the George Washington National Forest, is found in the Allegheny Highlands. The southern portion of Lake Moomaw is located in this District and provides recreation opportunities for both fishermen and campers.
The George Washington National Forest has hundreds of miles of hiking trails and this is probably the best way to see the Forest. On these trails you can see the geological evidence of the forces that formed the region. You might even find yourself sharing a trail with the resident wildlife (look quickly as most are shy of humans). It will take little imagination as you pass the ruins of a pig iron furnace or homestead to see the rich history of the area. But perhaps your idea of a good time is hooking a rainbow for dinner, roasting marshmallows over the red-orange coals of a campfire, or enjoying lunch in the speckled shade of an old hemlock with one of the 160 species of songbirds. All this and so much more is awaiting you within the George Washington National Forest.
5162 Valleypointe Pkwy.
Roanoke, Virginia 24019-3050
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
401 Oakwood Dr.
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801
810-A Madison Ave.
Covington, Virginia 24426
95 Railroad Av
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Glenwood and Pedlar Ranger Districts
PO Box 10
27 Ranger Lane
Natural Bridge Station, Virginia 24579
422 Forestry Rd
Hot Springs, Virginia 24445