April 5, 2015.
We’d always passed by Forest Road 498 (just off of route 33 right after the campground, on the right side of the road if you’re coming from Elkins) and cars were always parked outside of the gate, so we assumed that something awesome must be back there. One day we decided to stop and try it out. We started on a nice, level gravel road. It took a sharp right, so we followed it, assuming it was the forest road- and immediately ran into a “No Tresspassing” sign as soon as we crossed the small bridge. We turned around and noticed a trail leading up the side of the mountain on the opposite side of the creek (the same side as the gate.) The trail had a moderate grade and went uphill.
I was taking Plant Taxonomy at the time and had to collect samples of plant species, so this was a dual purpose trip. We followed the creek uphill and weren’t seeing many wildflowers, just an occasional spring beauty. We went down the steep bank to the creek bed and found the brightest purple hepatica I’ve ever seen.
The area was also full of yellow violets, spring beauty, trillium, and everyone’s favorite early-spring plant: ramps. We didn’t dig any ramps, but headed back up to the trail and kept exploring. As the trail went further uphill, the small creek’s waterfalls became more significant.Humans for size comparison. We were nearly at the top of the mountain by this point and the forest looked like it opened up. Excited to get to an overlook, we happily carried on and came upon a field next to the trail. Nothing out of the ordinary for an old logging road. We kept going and the overlook appeared to be on just around a curve on the ridge. We quickly made our way across the field, eager to get to the overlook, and- immediately ran into a gate that said “NO TRESSPASSING.” at the end of the gate. Most. Disappointing. End. Ever. We respected the no trespassing sign and turned back, sorely disappointed with our findings.
If there’s something significant out here or a path that we missed somewhere, please let me know! I’m curious as to why cars always seem to be at the gate of this forest road.