Walking into a red spruce forest can be described as nothing less than enchanting. The thick canopy shades moss-covered rocks that litter the cool, moist forest floor, while providing habitat for a multitude of rare plants and animals. The smell of evergreen needles and sap fills the air, as a Blackburnian warbler sings above. Nearby, a cold mountain stream filled with native brook trout bubbles.
These rare West Virginia forests not only give us refuge on a sunny hike but provide us with a glimpse of West Virginia's natural history. Virgin red spruce once covered more than 500,000 acres of the mountain landscape here. Unfortunately, aside from Gaudineer Knob and a few other small, isolated stands, most of the red spruce across West Virginia was eliminated during the logging era of the late nineteenth through early twentieth centuries.