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Allegheny Discovery Route

Updated: May 9

Explore the scenic Allegheny Mountains on the 540 mile Allegheny Discovery Route. This overlanding adventure in West Virginia (with parts in Virginia and Maryland) offers stunning views, challenging dirt roads, and a unique off-road experience. Plan your trip and discover the beauty of the East Coast wilderness.



Photos courtesy of Chet Szymecki


Route Overview


Trip Length & Season

Adventure Rating: Baja Trip Length: 6-10 days, 540 miles (670 with the Shenandoah Extension) Season: April to November provides the best weather, just keep in mind that rivers and creeks are typically running at their highest during the summer months (there are numerous river and creek crossings). Fall sees less rain and fording rivers and creeks should be easier. You can expect a decent amount of mud and mud pits during late spring through mid-Summer. It may be possible to do this track during the winter months, but you'll want to check on conditions and snow levels before heading out.

Digital Maps & GPX Files

Technical Ratings & Terrain

Recommended Vehicle / Moto / Adventure Vans

Fuel, Provisions, and Recommended Gear

Alternative Routes

Camping Recommendations

Discovery Points

Land Managers & Other Resources

Permits & Papers


 

Route Details

The western mountains of West Virginia and Virginia weave a tapestry of history and nature, beckoning outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The Allegheny and Shenandoah Mountains, flanking the famed Shenandoah Valley, boast distinct landscapes and rich pasts.

The Alleghenies sprawl across western Virginia with rolling green hills and dramatic elevation changes. Their past is etched in the remnants of coal mining operations, a resource that fueled industry and transportation for over a century. Dense hardwood forests of oak, maple, and hickory carpet their slopes with pockets of conifers mixed into the highlands, while hidden valleys hold secrets of the past, both Civil War skirmishes and the backbreaking labor of miners.

The Shenandoah, with its characteristic linear ridges and fertile valleys, belongs to the Ridge and Valley physiographic province. Here, diverse ecosystems showcase vibrant wildflower meadows alongside hardwood forests, offering habitat to black bears, elusive bobcats, and a variety of birdlife. The Civil War also left its mark on the Shenandoah, with key battles fought over strategic passes and valleys like New Market and Kernstown. Today, you can experience the magic of the Alleghenies and Shenandoah mountains by traveling the 540 mile Allegheny Discovery Route. The Allegheny Discovery Route, or simply the ADR, has become a local favorite among overlanders in the greater DC-Maryland-Virginia region, and for good reason! The ADR traverses some of the most scenic landscapes in the area, taking travelers to well known sites like Blackwater Falls, and to out of the way sites like Confederate Breastworks Site, a key Confederate stronghold during the Civil War. The Allegheny Discovery Route can be driven in either direction and extended and turned into a full loop, by adding on the 119 mile Shenandoah Extension (see alternative routes for more info). Folks short on time (or looking to explore new locations) may wish to use the Allegheny Cutoff, which falls one of the original iterations of the ADR. The ADR features a healthy mix of terrain, from wide gravel and dirt roads, to tighter secondary dirt roads with lots of encroaching trees and underbrush, to rockier tracks like Canaan Loop Road and Union Springs trail (see alternative routes), and some interconnecting pavement. Like many roads and trails through the Appalachian mountains, you can expect a lot of tree cover during spring and summer. With so much tree cover, we recommend making the short drives and hikes to the numerous observation towers and decks along the track. Many of those locations also make for a fantastic campsite, just remember, views mean exposure and limited protection from wind! During the summer months, the rivers and streams swell. With its numerous river and creek crossings, the high water creates a fun new dimension for folks willing to take on the challenge, with water levels typically running 18"-30" across many of the larger crossings during the Summer months. The track does offer a number of high water bypasses for folks on motos, or when rivers and creeks are running dangerously high (see alternative routes). While the wilderness has a way of alluring us overlanders away from city-life, don't overlook the many quaint towns, villages, and hamlets that have existed in these mountains for hundreds of year. The Tucker County Historic Courthouse (DP18) is certainly worth making a trip into the town of Parsons. And history buffs will appreciate visits to the local museums like Irvin Allen/Michael Cresap Museum (DP1), Ashby's Fort Museum, (DP4), Taggart Hall Civil War Museum ( DP5). And if you're looking to get the kids stoked on the adventure, you may want to hop on the train at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.


The Allegheny Discovery Route presents a plethora of possibilities: breathtaking vistas, challenging trails that pushed your limits, numerous creek and river crossings, and whispers of history echoing through time. The unique experience of the ADR will leave travelers yearning to return and further explore the wild soul of the Alleghenies and Shenandoah.


 

Terms of Use: Should you decide to travel a route that is published on Overlandtrailguides.com, you do so at your own risk. Always take the appropriate precautions when planning and traveling, including checking the current local weather, permit requirements, trail/road conditions, and land/road closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, and carry the appropriate safety, recovery, and navigational equipment. The information found on this site is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by OverlandTrailGuides.com, the route accuracy and current conditions of roads and trails cannot be guaranteed.

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