The United States Congress designated the Laurel Fork South Wilderness (map
) in 1983 and it now has a total of 5,840 acres
All of this wilderness is located in West Virginia
and is managed by the Forest Service.
The Laurel Fork South Wilderness is bordered by
the Laurel Fork North Wilderness
to the north.
Although sometimes listed as two areas, Laurel Fork Wilderness straddles the Laurel Fork of the Cheat River and only the corridor of County Route 40 separates the north and south portions. The narrow river valley runs north-south below regularly dissected slopes and long, slim ridges, fed by numerous side streams. Immediately to the east stands Rich Mountain; to the west looms Middle Mountain, with elevations over 3,700 feet. An almost continuous forest cover dominated by beech, maple, black cherry, birch, and yellow poplar is broken only by grassy meadows along the Laurel Fork itself. White-tailed deer live here with wild turkeys, bobcats, and beavers. You might occasionally spot a few black bears, although you're more likely to see some of the myriad resident bird species. You may catch native brook and brown trout in the river, but heavy brush can make casting difficult. Winters typically bring heavy snows; temperatures are pleasant in summer. The Laurel River North and Laurel River South Trails, both five miles long, follow the river from a central trailhead at Laurel Fork Campground. One side trail in the northern portion and three trails in the south--leave the Wilderness heading west to Forest Service Road 14. No trails exist on the east side of the area. In all, there are approximately 14 miles of trails in the Laurel Fork North and Laurel Fork South systems.