George Washington National Forest

Ranger Districts
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George Washington is divided into six ranger districts:

Lee: Historic area at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley
Dry River: Picturesque area straddling Virginia and West Virginia
Deerfield: In the heart of the Allegheny Mountains scenic ridges
Warm Springs: Home to 12-mile-long Lake Moomaw
Pedlar: In the Blue Ridge Mountains, taking in parts of the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway
James River: Southernmost district

Deerfield Ranger District

The Deerfield Ranger District is in the heart of the scenic ridge and valley province of northwestern Virginia's Allegheny Mountains. As its name indicates, this district features varied and abundant wildlife populations of turkey, grouse, black bear, squirrel, and of course, white tail deer. Most of the recreation opportunities are of a dispersed nature hiking, hunting, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and picnicking. The district is rich with American history, especially from the period of the Civil War. Places like the Confederate Breastworks and Georgia Camp ring of Civil War tales.

Braley Pond, situated at the north end of the scenic Deerfield Valley, is an ideal spot for picnicking, fishing, and hiking. Set in the pines near a 5-acre pond, this area offers 10 picnic sites equipped with tables and grills, drinking water, and toilet facilities.

From Staunton, take US 250 west for about 16 miles. Turn right on State Route (SR) 715. Then take the next left onto Forest Development Road (FDR) 348.1 and follow the signs about .5 mile to the day use area.

Mountain House is located near the site where a wayside station once stood and operated during the late 1800's on the old Parkersburg Pike (now US 250). This day use area offers 10 picnic sites equipped with tables and grills, drinking water, and toilet facilities. It is handy to trout fishing in Ramseys Draft and several hiking trails.

From Staunton, take US 250 west. The Mountain House is located on US 260 about 5 miles past the turn-off to Braley Pond at the junction with FDR 68.

Hiking in Deerfield Ranger District  

Warm Springs Ranger District

The Warm Springs Ranger District is nestled in Virginia's scenic Allegheny Mountains. Rich in local history and natural beauty, it offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities including fishing, boating, hiking, swimming, camping, waterskiing, and hunting. A recreational focal point is Lake Moomaw, which is 12 miles long with 43 miles of National Forest shoreline.

The Bolar Mountain and Bolar Flat Recreation Areas on the northwest shore of the 2,530 acre Lake Moomaw are among the most popular developed recreation areas in George Washington National Forest. Approved by Congress in 1947, Gathright Dam and the facilities were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers between 1965 and 1979. The lake was named in memory of Benjamin Moomaw whose efforts succeeded in bringing the lake to the Allegheny Highlands.

Here you will find ample opportunities for family camping, picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, waterskiing, hiking, or just enjoying the scenery. The Visitor Information Booth at Lake Moomaw is staffed five days a week during the heavy use season. The campgrounds are staffed with volunteers who serve as campground hosts. These hosts are courteous, knowledgeable, and love to talk with forest visitors. They will contact you as you check in to see if they can be of assistance.

You can reach the north end of the lake by exiting I-64 at Covington (Exit 16). Follow US 220, 25 miles north to Warm Springs. Then travel 13 miles west on State Route (SR) 39. Take SR 600 south for 7 miles and follow the signs to the developed sites.

Bolar Flat includes a 50 site picnic area, picnic shelter, a four-lane boat ramp, courtesy dock, flush toilets, marina, camp store and a universally accessible fishing pier. The marina offers gasoline sales and boat rentals during the summer months. The camp store, a private concession, offers gasoline sales, camping supplies, groceries, ice, soft drinks, bait, and the operator can provide information about Lake Moomaw. A trail and platform provide fishing access to persons with disabilities. You can reach them from the picnic area at Bolar Fist. A daily parking fee is charged at this site. A seasonal parking permit may also be purchased.

Bolar Mountain offers 90 campsites in three campgrounds, 60 picnic sites, a picnic shelter, flush toilets, warm water showers, electric hookups, a trailer dump station, beach with bathhouse, a volleyball play area, courtesy docks, and telephones. Fees are charged at the campgrounds and beach. The day use shelter may be reserved at the district office. Interpretive programs are held in the amphitheater every summer weekend. Check with the campground host for a schedule.

Hidden Valley, an open pastoral river valley nestled among the Allegheny mountains is one of the most picturesque areas on the forest. Rich in local history, the valley features the antebellum Warwick Mansion and the Jackson River, a large clear stream supporting both native and stocked trout. Recreational opportunities include camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, sight-seeing, wildlife viewing and photography. Hidden Valley Campground offers 30 campsites each equipped with tent pad, picnic table, lantern post, and grill. Drinking water, toilet facilities, and a trailer dump station are available. Nearby is the historic Warwick Mansion and a number of hiking trails.

From Warm Springs, take SR 39 west 3 miles. Turn right and take SR 621 north for 1 mile. Take FDR 241 for 1.75 miles to the campground.

Blowing Springs, named for the air that forced out by water pressure, is ideally located for anglers and hunters. Back Creek, a stocked trout stream, flows adjacent to the campground and offers very good trout fishing. Blowing Springs offers 23 campsites, 6 picnic sites, drinking water, vault toilets, and a trailer dump station. Arrive early if you want a campsite during the opening weekend of trout season. From Warm Springs, take SR 39 west for 9 miles to the campground.

Minimally developed recreation facilities on the Warm Springs District include McClintic Point, Bubbling Springs, Locust Springs, and Greenwood Point. These areas have a low development level with few amenities. Inquire at the district office for specific details about each area.

Dispersed Recreation
Poor Farm is at the north end of Hidden Valley and is one of the most popular fishing, hunting, and dispersed camping spots on the District. The Jackson River flows through here and is regularly stocked. Good hiking trails connect Hidden Valley with the Poor Farm.

From Warm Springs, take US 220 north for about 9 miles to SR 623. Turn left and take SR 623 southwest about 2 miles to the Poor Farm area.

The Pads Creek Area near Millboro is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a stocked trout stream, hiking trails, a picnic area at Bubbling Springs, excellent spring gobbler hunting, and very good deer hunting. This area is a popular camping spot for visitors who enjoy returning year after year.

Take Exit 43 off I-64 on SR 850 and 780. Travel North on SR 780 about 1 mile to SR 633, then West on SR 633 about 3 miles to FDR 129. Take FDR 129 south about 1 mile to Bubbling Springs.

The Walton Tract is accessed from SR 42 via SR 626 and offers canoe launch and take out points on the Cowpasture River. The Cowpasture River offers good fishing for bass, sunfish, and an opportunity to catch a musky. You can float 3 miles of the river on national forest land. A swinging bridge across the Cowpasture connects with the Beard's Mountain Trail which leads to the top of Beards Mountain. From here you can access Douthat State Park or Route 629.

The Laurel Fork area of Highland County provides unique opportunities in Virginia to view northern hardwoods and spruce while hiking old railroad tramline grades. Laurel Fork is a headwater tributary of the Potomac River. Bordering West Virginia on the north and west, the area includes over 28 miles of maintained trails which lie on some of the numerous old tram grades left from the railroad logging days. The area also offers good hunting and fishing.

Locust Springs Picnic Area includes an Adirondack shelter, hand pumps, picnic tables, grills, and vault toilet. The Buck Run Trail (2.9 miles) and the Locust Spring Run Trail (3.1 miles) originate at Locust Springs. Both lead down to Laurel Fork where you can intersect with other trails to continue your hike or make a loop hike and return to Locust Springs. The Laurel Fork Trail requires fording Laurel Fork several times and, therefore, should be hiked during periods of low water.

From Staunton, take US 250 west through Monterey to West Virginia Route 28. Take SR 28 north for about 6 miles to FDR 106 and follow the signs to Locust Spring.

Hiking in Warm Springs Ranger District

Pedlar Ranger District

The Pedlar Ranger District is situated in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Stretching from near Waynesboro to the James River, it surrounds portions of both the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway offering a variety of recreation opportunities. Popular activities include hiking, fishing, camping, picnicking and hunting.

For biking in the District, check out our feature on the Torry Ridge Loop, and the Mills Creek and Kennedy Ridge Loop.

The Sherando Lake Recreation Area lies with the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains and is one of the most popular recreation areas on the George Washington National Forest. The area includes two lakes with most of the recreational facilities lying between them. Sherando Lake is the lower and larger of the two lakes at 24 acres. It, as well as many of the recreational facilities, were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the mid-1930's. The upper lake was built later for flood control and is used primarily for fishing.

Sherando Lake features swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing. The campground has 65 family campsites as well as group sites. Amenities include drinking water, flush toilets, showers, and a trailer dump station. Swimming facilities include a sandy beach, a shaded grass area, and a bathhouse with warm showers. The lake is stocked with trout and non-motorized boating is welcome outside of the swimming area. Evening programs are conducted at the outdoor amphitheater during the summer months. A visitor center is located at the beach pavilion offering information and interpretive materials such as maps, brochures, and guidebooks for visitors. Ice, drink machines and a snack machine are also located at the beach pavilion.

Exit I-64 at the Sherando Lake Exit. Take SR 624 southwest 2 miles to SR 664. Take SR 664 south about 8 miles to FDR 91 (Sherando Lake Recreation Area entrance sign). Take FDR 91 west approximately 0.5 mile to the entrance stations.

Hiking in Pedlar Ranger District

Lee Ranger District

The Lee Ranger District includes portions of two scenic mountain ranges at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley. This area is steeped in history and boasts remnants of bygone Colonial, Civil War and CCC periods. The northernmost district on the George Washington National Forest, which includes a scenic portion of West Virginia, lies within a mere two hour drive from Washington DC. The Lee District provides excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and hunting.

The Trout Pond Recreation Area is a beautiful area of lakes, streams, mountains, and sinkholes, all tucked away in the quiet wilds of West Virginia. Newly renovated, this recreation area offers opportunities for camping, fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking. Rockcliff Lake, a 17 acre man-made lake, has a swimming beach with warm showers and is open for canoes and small boats with electric motors. The lake is well stocked with trout. Reminder: A West Virginia fishing license is required to fish in the lake.) There is a trail around the lake and other hiking trails nearby. The campground includes 50 sites, each with a tent pad, picnic table, lantern post and grill. Drinking water, flush toilets, warm showers, and a disposal station are also available. The day use area has 30 individual l sites and 2 group picnic areas.

Exit I-81 at Strasburg and take SR 55 west for about 18 miles to Wardensville, WV. Take SR 23/10 south about 6 miles. Take SR 259/5 south for about 6 miles. Take FDR 500 for about 1 mile to the recreation n area.

The Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area provides a unique setting for camping, hiking, picnicking, hunting, and fishing. The area is rich in history and features the iron furnace, known as "Elizabeth," dating back over 150 years. The area offers a 30-unit family campground and 3 group sites (available by reservation only). Amenities include tables, grills, drinking water, and showers. The picnic area has a total of 54 sites, including 2 covered shelters. Several trails radiating from the area offer opportunities to discover a famous Civil War signal station; to learn about the iron industry that flourished during the 19th century; and to walk where buzzards fly. Nearby, Passage Creek offers trout fishing.

From Strasburg, take SR 55 east for about 5 miles to Waterlick. Then take SR 678 south for 6 miles to the recreation area.

Camp Roosevelt was constructed at the site of the fist Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp in the nation. The area features camping, picnicking, hiking, and, of course, exploring the interesting CCC era building foundations. Facilities include: 10 campsites, 15 picnic sites, a picnic shelter, drinking water, flush toilets, a disposal station, and a small playfield. From Edinburg, take SR 675 southeast for 9 miles.

Minimally developed recreation areas on the Lee District include the following: Hawk Recreation Area, Hazard Mill, Hazard Mill Canoe Camp, High Cliff Canoe Camp, Little Fort Recreation Area, Tomahawk Pond, Wolf Gap Recreation Area, and New Market Gap. These areas have a low development level with few amenities. Inquire at the district office for specific details about each area.

Hiking in Lee Ranger District

James River Ranger District

The James River Ranger District, in the beautiful Allegheny highlands of Virginia, is the southernmost district on the George Washington National Forest. A portion of the Gathright Dam and Lake Moomaw Recreation Area is within the district boundaries. It offers some of our most popular campgrounds and facilities as well as a variety of interesting trails.

Coles Mountain Recreation Area features a beautiful swimming beach and bathhouse, warm showers, flush toilets, 80 picnic sites, shelters, a boat launch, a courtesy dock and vending machines. A universally accessible fishing pier may be reached by a short, hard-surfaced trail leaving the north end of the Coles Point parking lot.

Exit I-64 at Covington (Exit 16). Follow US 220 north for 4 miles. Take SR 687 north for 3 miles. Take SR 641 west about 1 mile. Take SR 666 north for 5 miles. Turn right on SR 606 and proceed north for 3 miles. After crossing the dam, take the entrance road (FDR 601) to the recreation area.

Morris Hill Recreation Area is set atop a wooded ridge at the southern end of Lake Moomaw. This area includes the Morris Hill Campground which is the largest, most popular campground on the District. It has 55 campsites, each with a tent pad, grill, and picnic table. Showers, flush toilets, trailer spaces, a trailer dump station, and nearby lake access trails are among the amenities offered. The nearby Morris Hill Picnic Area features picnic facilities, picnic shelters, toilet facilities, and hiking trails.

Exit I-64 at Covington (Exit 16). Follow US 220 north for 4 miles. Take SR 687 north for 3 miles. Take SR 641 west for about 1 mile. Take SR 666 north for 5 miles. Turn right on SR 605 and proceed 2 miles north to the entrance road, FDR 603.

Longdale Recreation Area is an attractive, rustic area constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. It features a small lake with a sandy swimming beach and a bathhouse with showers and flush toilets. It also offers 20 picnic sites, a picnic shelter, and nearby hiking trails.

From I-64 heading west, take Exit 35 at Longdale. Take SR 860 west 2.5 miles. Turn left at the entrance sign and follow FDR 172 south 1 mile to the area. From I-64 heading east, take Exit 29. Turn right on SR 42, then left on SR 850. Follow SR 850 east for about 5 miles. Turn right at the entrance sign and follow FDR 172 south 1 mile to the area.

The Children's Forest is one of three National Children's Forests originally established in the U.S. The site contains a monument to the over 1,000 children who planted the trees in this area on April 28, 1972 following a 1,200-acre wildfire the previous year. The names of all the children participating in the planting are contained in a time capsule to be opened in 2072. A paved 0.25-mile loop trail offers a glimpse of the trees, wildflowers and animals now living in the forest. Exit I-64 at Covington (Exit 16); 11 miles south on SR 18; 4 miles east on SR 613; and 1 mile southwest on FDR 351 to the parking lot.

Hiking in James River Ranger District

Dry River Ranger District

The Dry River Ranger District includes portions of Virginia and West Virginia as it straddles the scenic Shenandoah Mountains. Among its variety of recreational opportunities are hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, ATV riding, horseback riding, and camping.

Todd Lake Recreation Area nestled between Trimble and Grindstone Mountains, is a popular spot for camping, swimming, picnicking, and hiking. The campground has 20 campsites, each with a tent pad, picnic table, lantern post and grill. Drinking water, flush toilets, and warm water showers are available. The 7.5 acre stream-fed lake features a sandy beach for swimming and boats with electric motors or paddles are welcome beyond the swimming area. The picnic area offers 36 picnic sites equipped with tables and grills, drinking water, flush toilets, and changing rooms. A trailer dump station is near the entrance on FDR 95. There are several nice hiking trails nearby.

From Bridgewater, take US 42 about 3 miles south to Mossy Creek. Take SR 747 about 3 miles west to Mt. Solon. Take SR 731 north about 1 mile. Turn left onto SR 730 and follow it about 3 miles to the Stokesville junction. Turn right on SR 718 and follow it about 1 mile to FDR 95. Follow FDR 95 about 2 miles to the Todd Lake turn-off.

Brandywine Lake Recreation Area is a picturesque area featuring swimming, fishing, camping, and picnicking. Brandywine Lake is 10 acres in size and offers a sandy beach, swimming area, and changing rooms. Boats without motors are welcome beyond the swimming area. The lake offers good fishing for stocked trout and is encircled by an angler's trail. Reminder: A West Virginia fishing license is required to fish in the lake. A hard surfaced trail extends from the parking lot to an accessible fishing pier on the east side of the lake. The campground has 30 campsites, each having a tent pad, picnic table, lantern post and grill. Vault and flush toilets, warm water showers, drinking water (fountains and hand pump), and a trailer dump station are available. The day use area includes 31 sites with tables, grills and drinking fountains.

Brandywine Lake is about 2 miles east of Brandywine, West Virginia, off US 33.

Hone Quarry Recreation Area is set amidst large hemlocks along a mountain stream. It features camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing. The campground offers 10 campsites, each having a picnic table, fire ring, grill, parking spur and tent pad. There is a hand pump for water, a vault toilet and an adjoining trailer dump station. The adjacent day use area includes 23 picnic sites with tables and grills, a picnic shelter with fireplace, a vault toilet, and parking. Hone Quarry Lake is a mile west of the recreation area. Non-motorized boats and fishing are welcome in the lake as well as in nearby Hearthstone Lake. Nearby trails offer loop hiking opportunities and excellent vistas.

From Harrisonburg, take SR 42 south to Dayton. Turn right on SR 257 and proceed 11 miles west to FDR 62 and follow the sign about 3 miles to the campground. Hearthstone Lake is about 5 miles south of Hone Quarry off FDR 1117, and can be reached via FDR 101.

Minimally developed recreation areas on the Dry River Ranger District include North River and Camp Run Campgrounds and Blue Hole, Shenandoah Mountain and North River Picnic Areas. These areas have a low development level with few amenities. Inquire at the district office for specific details about each area.

The West Side Shooting Range is open year round and provides shooting sites of various lengths, covered shooting benches, and a parking area. It is on FDR 151 about one mile north of the junction of FDR 151 and US 33. The turnoff is about 1 mile east of the Brandywine Lake Recreation Area entrance.

Hiking in Dry River Ranger District


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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