Flying eagles, vintage passenger trains and historic towns color the beautiful, green South Branch Valley. It’s the land of the Potomac and the place where George Washington slept. The North Fork of the South Branch follows State Route 28/Highland Trace 55 and empties into the South Branch of the Potomac west of Petersburg, county seat of Grant. The South Branch continues into Hardy County, passing through the historic county seat of Moorefield, before disappearing into the impenetrable “Trough” . . . a unique geological area best explored by canoe or by train! It then makes it way into Hampshire Country and to the great Potomac.
Trophy bass and lazy canoe trips color the South Branch. Anglers of all ages learn here and make records here. Outfitters specialize in magical river trips of choice. Whether your water pleasure be canoeing, kayaking, rafting or running in duckies, there are custom trips available, designed by local outfitters. Take time to explore the Smoke Hole Canyon by canoe or tube around Big Bend.
These four counties have a vast history of conflict with Native Americans and Civil War clashes resulting in the creation of West Virginia. The extensive Civil War Trail has more than 15 markers in this region alone. Romney in Hampshire County (the oldest town and county in West Virginia) boasts many historic buildings and Civil War stories worth seeing and hearing. Petersburg and Moorefield, both founded in the 1700’s as part of Virginia, are the county seats of Grant and Hardy counties where history abounds. Mineral County has evidence of indigenous peoples dating from 1,000 to 200 BC.
Forests & Parks
To the east in Hardy County, the Lost River begins as a tiny run near the villages of Lost City and Lost River, growing larger as it passes by Lost River State Park then, near Wardensville, disappears at Lost River Sinks only to emerge again to become the Cacapon River in Hampshire County. Nearly 60,000 acres in Hardy County belong to the George Washington National Forest. A system of marked trails and forest roads make for easy hiking and backpacking. Recreation areas offer camping, fishing, and swimming opportunities.