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Scenic Highways


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 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: the Midland Trail, which follows U.S. 60 for 180 miles from White Sulphur Springs to Charleston to Kenova; the Highland Scenic Highway (43 miles) through the Monongahela National Forest; Coal Heritage Trail (187 miles) through 13 counties, 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.

The state also designates its own scenic highways based on accessibility to the public and the presence of at least one outstanding scenic, historic, cultural, natural, archeological, or recreation quality. Roads receiving “backway” designations also must 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. These state-designated scenic highways include Back Mountain Backway (2.7 miles), Camp Allegheny Backway (10.58 miles), Cheat Mountain Backway (3.32 miles), Cheat River Byway (14.3 miles), Farm Heritage Road (59.45 miles), Little Kanawha Parkway (77.63 miles), Northwestern Turnpike (54 miles), Old Route 7 Byway (43 miles), and Rich Mountain Backway (12.5 miles).

Every four years, the state Division of Highways re-evaluates state-designated scenic highway to determine if it still meets the program’s standards.