Covering over 1.8 million acres of land in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, the George Washington and Jefferson National forests combine together to form one of the largest forest-lands of the Eastern United States. These forests afford almost every type of outdoor activities to enjoy various recreation experiences including hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, mountain climbing, beaches, off-roading, horseback-riding, scenic drives, photography, bird-watching and many more. In addition to it’s numerous recreation activities and stunning natural beauty, these forests are also rich in history.
So, here’s a little-bit of history about it’s formation-
At first, George Washington National Forest was established as the Shenandoah National Forest on May 16, 1918 and then, on June 28, 1932, it was renamed after the first president of the United States. The Jefferson National Forest was formed on April 21, 1936 by combining portions of Unaka and George Washington National Forest along with few other forest-lands. Later, by 1995, both the forests were officially combined and was named as The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
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Notable Features and Places You Must See-
– The forest is within a two-hour drive and offers a collection of stunning scenic drives. Explore and drive through these astonishing natural beauty to give yourself an awesome visual treat.
– One of the most outstanding viewing spots in the George Washington National Forest is the High Knob Fire Lookout Tower. The tower is at an elevation of 4,107 feet.
– Virginia’s highest point, Mount Rogers, is in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area that is part of the forest.
– Located in the Jefferson National Forest, Breaks Interstate Park, is the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi River.
– Stretching over 33.4 miles and filled with gorgeous natural beauty, Virginia’s finest rail-trail, the Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail, should definitely be explored if hiking and biking is your thing. This trail is for non-motorized traffic only.
– Locally known as the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sherando Lake Recreation Area has many amazing points of interests to enjoy with family and friends. This is a must-visit destination if you’re around the location.
– Located in the Cascades Day Use Area, the scenic 66 foot Cascade Falls, is one of the most popular outdoor recreation spots in southwest Virginia.
– Note that, The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are divided into number of Ranger Districts and are home to 17 designated wilderness areas.
– The Forests contain some 230,000 acres (930 km 2) of old growth forests, representing all the major forest communities found within them. In particular, the regions in the Ramsey’s Draft and Kimberling Creek Wildernesses are mostly old-growth.
– There are more than 50 developed campgrounds and three cabins in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. All campgrounds offers sites on a first come, first served basis. Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.
So, now that you can already imagine, how wildly and beautiful these forests are, what are you waiting for??!! Just pack and go exploring!!