Coopers Rock State Forest is located 12 miles east of Morgantown, West Virginia on Interstate 68. It is the largest state forest in West Virginia with over 12,713 acres. The forest is roughly bisected by I-68. The north side (known as the WVU Forest) is leased to West Virginia University’s Division of Forestry for research, teaching, and demonstration. Most recreation in the forest takes place on the side south of I-68.
Coopers Rock is jointly managed by the West Virginia (State) Division of Forestry and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. The forest is currently managed for a wide range of uses which include both recreation and timber management.
Coopers Rock State Forest gets its name from a legend about a fugitive who hid from the law near what is now the overlook. A cooper by trade, he resumed making barrels at his new mountain hideout, selling them to people in nearby communities. He lived and worked in the forest for many years.
During the early to mid-1800′s, the forest was the site of several iron furnaces that took advantage of iron ore deposits, limestone, and abundant timber to fuel the furnace fires. When the iron industry declined, the forest’s remaining trees were cut for telephone poles, railroad ties, and shingles.
In 1936, the West Virginia Conservation Commission purchased the land to manage as Coopers Rock State Forest.
During the Depression, between 1936 and 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built numerous structures in the forest, often using durable American chestnut wood from trees that succumbed to a blight that nearly wiped out the species. Eleven of these structures, including the rustic picnic shelters near the overlook, have been included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Links to More Information
West Virginia State Parks Official Site for Coopers Rock:
West Virginia Division of Forestry Site for Coopers Rock: