Things To Do
Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
The Sylvan Well is located directly in the heart of the Allegheny Highlands. When our guests are not participating in workshops, classes sand gatherings, they have many opportunities to travel around our beautiful state to partake in the Appalachian culture. Below are several unique spots to visit~ some are included
in our extended-stay retreats.
Elkins is a mountain oasis rich with history, outdoor fun and beautiful art. Located right on the edge of the Monongahela National Forest, this quaint city makes it easy to play in the mountains while staying in luxury. With a history steeped in logging and rail, Elkins embodies the spirit of the rugged eastern frontier. This mountain town is a mecca for sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts who come to the area to fish, hunt, bike and hike. Elkins also is a cultural hub, serving as home to several theaters, art galleries, and even a school devoted to the preservation of traditional music and dance.
Elkins may be smaller than the town you're escaping from, but you never have to be bored. Between charming and unique shops, historic stops, and community events, you can always find fun around town.
Beverly was founded as the county seat of Randolph County, Virginia in 1790. Today this historic significance is recognized through the designation of much of the town as a National Register Historic District. A quiet small town, Beverly is a hidden treasure of history in the Tygarts Valley of Central West Virginia. One of the first settlements west of the Alleghenies, Beverly dates back to the era of the American Revolutionary War. By the time crucial Civil War battles were fought nearby in 1861, Beverly was an established crossroads of the area. The rise of nearby Elkins at the end of the 19th Century left Beverly to be largely unaffected by later development. As a result, Beverly today preserves a unique look into an earlier time.
Some of the most anticipated events celebrated are Fasnacht, the Helvetia Ramp Supper, Follow Your Bliss Music Festival, Swiss National Holiday, the Helvetia Community Fair, and monthly square dances.
After the end of the Civil War, a group of Swiss and German-speaking immigrants formed in Brooklyn, New York. The members agreed that they would all emigrate to another section of the country together when the time was right. A member of the group surveyed the eastern West Virginia mountains and reported back to the society on the richness of the country. A committee of six men was assembled, and they left Brooklyn by rail on October 15, 1869. They arrived in Clarksburg, West Virginia and began the difficult trek by foot over the mountains.
At the beginning of 1871, there were thirty-two people living in the community. A new arrival in that year, C.E. Lutz, became the local land agent and wrote advertisements in English and German for papers across the country extolling the virtues of the settlement. New settlers came from various parts of the United States and Canada, and some immigrated directly from Switzerland.
In addition to farmers and herdsmen, many craftsmen and professionals were among the settlers: stonemasons; carpenters; painters; wagon, shoe, watch, hat, and cheese makers; musicians; teachers; ministers; and doctors. By 1874 the community’s population had grown to a heady 308. Many of their descendants remain but the population size is only about 60 people maintaining Swiss traditions.
West Virginia Civil War Trails connects visitors with the great campaigns and lesser-known sites of the Civil War. Their signature signs and distinctive red bugle guide visitors as they follow in the footsteps of the generals, soldiers, citizens, and the enslaved who found themselves in the midst of this great struggle.
Sites can be explored at your own pace, and many offer other historical and recreational opportunities. Enjoy one of the numerous walking tours available in many communities. Shop at one of hundreds of antique and specialty shops, dine at a historically-themed tavern, or simply walk amid the serenity of a preserved battlefield. Near every West Virginia Civil War Trails site, you’ll find other activities that make visiting West Virginia so popular: whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and curvy, country roads where the stories you’ve discovered will ignite your imagination.
The West Virginia Civil War Trails program is part of a five-state trails network that invites you to explore both well-known and less familiar sites associated with America’s greatest drama. Together, more than 1,000 places tell the epic and heartfelt stories of civilians and soldiers who experienced triumph and tragedy during the war.
Hiking, Hunting, Fishing Climbing and Biking
West Virginia has one of the best trout-stocking programs in the nation. Each year, between 700,000 and 800,000 pounds of trout are stocked in West Virginia streams and lakes. Additionally, over 300,000 fingerling trout are stocked in our state’s streams and rivers. The Potomac Highlands has miles of West Virginia trout fishing rivers, streams, creeks, and lakes. Situated in the beautiful region of the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia, Randolph County is a natural paradise that has long been a destination for anglers of all sorts. Whether you prefer to keep your feet dry and cast your reel from a boat or along the shore or you’d rather wade in the deep refreshing mountain water, you’ll find your paradise where the fish are biting.
The Allegheny Highlands Trail provides a nice flat riding experience for anyone with a mountain or cross bike. The first three miles out of Elkins are paved, the the remainder has a fine crushed stone finish. The trail is 22 miles between Elkins and Parsons, and now extends to Hendricks, where it connects with the Blackwater Canyon Trail.. Paved parts of the trail are used for both of the routes listed below.
Seneca Rocks is one of the best-known landmarks in West Virginia. These rocks have long been noted as a scenic attraction and are popular with rock climbers. The rocks are a magnificent formation rising nearly 900 feet above the North Fork River. Seneca Rocks is just a short drive away in neighboring Pendleton County.
No matter what outdoor activity you are interested in, you will find it nearby in the Allegheny Highlands!
National Forests and State Parks
The Monongahela National Forest is a national forest located in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, USA. It protects over 921,000 acres (1,439 sq mi) of federally owned land within a 1,700,000 acres (2,656 sq mi) proclamation boundary that includes much of the Potomac Highlands Region and portions of 10 counties.
Elkins is a gateway to the Monongahela National Forest. The offices for the forest service are located at 200 Sycamore Street in Elkins. Stuart Recreation Area is very close to Elkins, about seven miles outside of town. One of the most popular areas of the forest is Seneca Rocks, which is a great place to go hiking or rock climbing. Seneca Rocks is about a forty-five minute drive from Elkins and its Discovery Center is open seasonally.
There are five state parks that are within about an hour to an hour-and-a-half drive from Elkins. Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park are both located in Tucker County to the northeast. Audra State Park is to the west, between Elkins and Buckhannon. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and Kumbrabow State Forest are located to the south of Elkins.
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad (DGVR) operates all trains in Randolph (and adjacent Pocahontas County), each with their own unique history and vintage locomotives. DGVR’s Mountain Rail Adventures showcases West Virginia’s high mountain country while tracing remnants of old timber communities on its preserved railroad tracks.
Area trains operate from three historic depots, including the historic downtown Elkins depot in Randolph County, the quaint town of Durbin, and the world famous Cass Scenic Railroad in Pocahontas County. Experience an elegant ride in the dining cars at Elkins or explore one of West Virginia’s highest mountain peaks as you ride behind more than a 100-year-old Shay steam locomotive.
From April to December, Mountain Rail Adventures offers an assortment of special events and excursions. At the Cass Scenic Railroad, special events include train rides to Whittaker, trackside campfires, traditional bluegrass music, Appalachia-themed on-train meals, and even trips that attract photographers and historians! In Durbin, enjoy specialty-themed weekends that focus on culture, history, entertainment and more.
Fairs and Festivals
Randolph County host numerous fairs and festivals throughout the year. The crown jewel of local festivals is the Mountain State Forest Festival held each year the first week in October. This is West Virginia's oldest and largest festival.
Other events throughout the year include:
Augusta Heritage Festival, Battle of Rich Mountain Reenactment, Beverly Heritage Days, Bowden Fishing Derby, Coalton Days, Fasnacht, Helvetia Fair, Helvetia Ramp Dinner, Maple Syrup Festival, Mill Creek Celebration, Mountain State Street Machines Show, Old Fashioned Beverly Christmas, Randolph County Fair, Ramps and Rails Festival and many more.