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In 1991, Congress created the National Scenic Byways program to recognize national and state roads of special scenic value. The Federal Highway Administration funds the program. After a road is designated as a scenic byway, it is eligible for funds to protect, maintain, and improve the roads and adjacent areas.

West Virginia offers two scenic designations, byway and backway. To meet the minimum criteria for byway designation, a road must be accessible to the public and have at least one outstanding scenic, historic, cultural, natural, archeological, or recreation quality. A backway must meet additional criteria: provide a rural or ‘‘semi-primitive’’ experience; be unpaved or have only a few stretches of pavement; and offer nearby walking paths to areas with at least one outstanding quality.

West Virginia has one All-American Road: Historic National Road (16 miles) follows U.S. 40 from the Ohio state line to the Pennsylvania state line. The state has five nationally designated byways, including the section of the Midland Trail that follows U.S. 60 from White Sulphur Springs to Charleston. The other federally recognized byways are the Highland Scenic Highway (43 miles) through the Monongahela National Forest; Coal Heritage Trail (98 miles) from Beckley via State Route 16 and U.S. 52 at Welch to Bluefield; the Washington Heritage Trail (137 miles) through Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan counties in the Eastern Panhandle; and the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike (180 miles) from Parkersburg to just beyond Bartow. There are 14 state-designated byways and eight backways located throughout West Virginia.

Every four years, the state Division of Highways re-evaluates each byway and backway to determine if it still meets the program’s standards.

See WV: Scenic Byways/Backways

Last Revised on June 20, 2013

Cite This Article

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Scenic Highways." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 20 June 2013. Web. 29 January 2023.


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