The story of Corridor H begins with a young U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.


The crushing poverty John F. Kennedy witnessed during his 1960 presidential campaign led him to create the Appalachian Regional Commission in hopes of bringing economic recovery to the region. That commission came up with an ambitious project—a system of 23 highways providing quicker, easier, and safer travel in and out of the mountains.

The commission planned six highways in West Virginia: Corridors D, E, G, H, L, and Q. Corridor H is the only one that hasn’t been completed, but 90 percent of the highway is finished or currently under construction. Completion is probably still a few decades away, since the remaining 31 miles—which includes stretches from Kerens to Parsons, Parsons to Davis, and Wardensville to the state line—cover some of the most treacherous topography on the route.

Communities along Corridor H are already reaping the benefits of the four-lane. With the highway nearly complete, vacationers from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, have found ways around the remaining gaps and are pouring into the region for skiing and other outdoor activities. Some are even purchasing second homes here. “A lot of the economic development is just happening naturally,” says Robbie Morris, president of the Corridor H Authority. “Wardensville has had a complete resurgence with small business and has become a really unique town. You look at Moorefield and look at all the commercial developments that have popped up. Davis is already reporting higher traffic counts.”

Breathtaking vistas, a smooth ride, and cool stops along the way—what could make for a better West Virginia road trip? We’ve prepared a basic Corridor H itinerary, but consider this a rough sketch. There’s far more to discover than these pages could contain.

 

Weston

Weston is known as “Stonewall Country” because Civil War General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson grew up in the area with relatives at Jackson’s Mill, a 1,500-acre estate now owned and operated by the West Virginia University Extension Service.

SHOP Get a glimpse into Weston’s vibrant glassblowing past at Appalachian Glass, where you can watch a demonstration and then peruse the hand-blown creations at its colorful shop.

Play The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, the largest hand-cut stone building in North America, offers historical tours Tuesdays through Saturdays that take visitors through the history of mental health treatment. The asylum also offers ghost-hunting tours throughout the month of October.

Eat Just steps away from the asylum is Thyme Bistro. It may be unassuming on the outside, but the chef dishes out some spectacular creations.

www.stonewallcountry.com

 

Buckhannon

Home of West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, Buckhannon is a charming historic town.

Play Reel in a wall hanger. The Buckhannon River has a 6-mile stretch of world-class muskie fishing.

Eat You won’t starve in this town, but you might have a hard time picking just one place to eat. You can’t go wrong at the 88 Restaurant & Lounge, ¾ Café, C.J. Maggie’s, or Fish Hawk Acres Market.

Shop Support area artists by shopping at Artistry on Main and then take a side trip to famed West Virginia glass blower Ron Hinkle’s studio and gallery located just south of town on West Virginia Route 20.

Stay If you love the B&B experience, visit Governor’s Inn or McNemar House. You won’t be disappointed.

www.visitbuckhannon.org

Elkins

Elkins is the gateway to the Monongahela National Forest and the home of Davis & Elkins College.

Do Ride the rails with a scenic trip aboard The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. There are several trip packages to choose from.

Shop The darling Delmonte Market, located across from the train station, is a shopping bonanza. For more locally made products, visit Artists at Work on Davis Avenue.

Stay The grand dame of in-town lodging is the beautifully restored Graceland Inn—a historic mansion operated by Davis & Elkins with commanding views of the surrounding mountains. The Isaac Jackson Hotel is a more modern option.

Play  Enjoy the offerings of the Monongahela National Forest. If you are looking for indoor entertainment, check out Gandy Dancer Theater.

Eat There are several great spots to grab some grub. El Gran Sabor, C.J. Maggie’s American Grill, Beanders Restaurant & Tavern, Vintage Restaurant & Wine Bar, 1863 Grill, Railyard Restaurant, and Smoke on the Water BBQ are all good options.

Drink If you are a fan of local brews, then you know Big Timber Brewing Company has taken the state by storm. Visit its taproom in downtown Elkins.

www.randolphcountywv.com

 

Parsons

Parsons—perched at the confluence of the Shavers Fork and Black Fork rivers that form the Cheat River—is the county seat of Tucker County. It is home to Kingsford Manufacturing Company, the world’s leading manufacturer of barbecue briquettes.

Stay Five River Camp Ground is the perfect location for kayaking and fishing the Cheat River. The annual bluegrass festival Pickin’ in Parsons is held at this immaculate campground.

Play Blackwater Outdoor Adventures is the go-to spot for exploring the Cheat River with kayaking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, tubing, and stand up paddleboarding experiences for the entire family.

Eat Piccolo Paula’s Caffe offers delicious sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and soups.

www.canaanvalley.org

 

Thomas

Home of the renowned music venue the Purple Fiddle, this hip town overlooks the Blackwater River and has one of the most vibrant art communities in the state.

Do Park along Front Street and walk the length. You’ll find charming antique stores, art galleries, and cafés.

Stay Blackwater Falls State Park—only five minutes away—has rooms at the lodge as well as cabins and camping options.

Play Don’t leave without visiting one of West Virginia’s most beloved natural wonders, Blackwater Falls.

Eat Looking for a hearty breakfast? Try Flying Pigs.

Drink TipTop is an awesome place to go for good coffee, pastries, and light fare. Visit the home base of Mountain State Brewing Company, the largest full-scale microbrewery and distributor in the state.

www.canaanvalley.org

 

Davis

The last stretch of Corridor H will connect Davis with Parsons. With Canaan Valley Resort, Timberline Four Seasons Resort, and Blackwater Falls State Park a stone’s throw away, options for adventure or relaxation abound.

Do Check out Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center, where there are activities for every season. Hike the Dolly Sods Wilderness and Bear Rocks Preserve or mountain bike at Moon Rocks.

Shop WV Highlands Artisans Gallery sells a variety of locally made products.

Eat Siriani’s Cafe and Hellbender Burritos are dining institutions, but Wicked Wilderness Pub and Parlor is a new spot drawing big crowds. For gourmet burgers try Barrels Brewhouse, and visit the Purple Fiddle not just for entertainment but also its sandwiches, wraps, and soups.

Drink Quickly becoming the epicenter of West Virginia’s craft beer scene, Blackwater Brewing Company and Stumptown Ales are always popular destinations.

www.canaanvalley.org

 

Bismarck

Located right outside Bismarck, along the Allegheny Front, the 1,200-acre Mount Storm Lake is a cooling reservoir for Dominion Energy’s Mount Storm Power Station. The power station takes in approximately 234,000 gallons of water from the lake per minute, cycling the water in the entire lake every two and a half days. This keeps the water warm, making it a popular destination for swimming, boating, fishing, scuba diving, and sailing.

The area is one of the windiest spots east of the Mississippi, which makes it a prime location for wind farms. Wind turbines stretch along 12 miles of the Allegheny Front and generate enough electricity to power 66,000 homes.

 

Moorefield

The stretch of the corridor between Mount Storm and Moorefield is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Moorefield is located at the confluence of the South Branch Potomac River and the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River and is the county seat of Hardy County.

Play Play a round of golf at Valley View Golf Course. Visit West-Whitehill Winery for a tour and tasting.

Eat O’Neill’s Grill dishes out some tasty burgers, and Mullin’s 1847 Restaurant is a charming restaurant and bar.

Stay Stay at South Branch Inn and you’ll receive a free bowling pass to nearby South Branch Potomac Lanes and a free movie ticket to the local movie theater.

www.visithardywv.com

 

Baker

Just a quick jaunt off the corridor are several hidden treasures worth exploring.

Play Lost River State Park offers several recreational amenities like biking, hiking, horseback riding, geocaching, tennis, and swimming.

Do Check out the 17-acre Rock Cliff Lake and Trout Pond, the only natural lake in the state and home to native brook trout.

Stay After resting your head at Guesthouse Lost River or the Inn at Lost River, you might never want to leave.

Eat The Guesthouse Lost River has become a destination dining spot and the Lost River General Store is a charming place to grab a quick lunch.

www.visithardywv.com

 

Wardensville

This darling town is at either the beginning of Corridor H or the end, depending on which direction you’re traveling. Either way, it is definitely worth a stop.

Shop You can’t miss Lost River Trading Post and its Grasshopper Gallery—just look for their signature red cow.  This modern mountain general store offers American-made products, local handcrafted items, antiques, food, and craft beverages. Also make sure you check out Star Mercantile & More and Cacapon River Arts.

Eat Visit Wardensville Garden Market for coffee and a freshly baked pastry, or grab a sandwich or two. For light fare visit Lost River Trading Post, or for good down-home cooking try Kac-Ka-Pon Restaurant.

Stay Check out the Firefly Inn. This contemporary four-room motel has recently been transformed and is located within walking distance of a plethora of charming shops and restaurants.

www.visithardywv.com

 

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Nikki Bowman
Written by Nikki Bowman
Nikki Bowman, a West Virginia native, is the founder and owner of New South Media, Inc., which publishes the critically acclaimed WV Living, WV Weddings, West Virginia Focus, Explore, and Morgantown magazines. In January 2015, her company also took over the editorial and design of Wonderful West Virginia magazine. She graduated from West Virginia University and received her master’s degree in Writing from DePaul University in Chicago.