GETTING THERE: Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, within West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest, is about five hours from Washington, and the drive offers a beautiful fall alternative to the more crowded Skyline Drive. Take I-66 west to I-81 south. At Staunton, Va., take U.S. Route 250 west to Virginia Route 42 south, then to Route 39 west, through Marlinton, W.Va., and beyond to the forest entrance.
WHAT TO DO: Hiking, camping, fishing (with a state fishing license) and eating are the prime attractions. The Cranberry Mountain Nature Center (304-653-4826, www.fs.fed.us/r9/mnf/sp/naturecenter.html), at the junction of routes 150 and 39/55, is a good first stop before heading into the nearby bogs. Camping is available for $8 a night at Summit Lake and Tea Creek Campgrounds, both within 15 miles of the nature center. The Dolly Sods Scenic Area, a bog-rich area at the northern end of the Monongahela National Forest, has 25 miles of trails on the upper part of Red Creek and a dozen primitive campsites at the Red Creek Campground, about 24 miles north of the popular Seneca Rocks. Info: Forest Road 75, 304-257-4488, www.fs.fed.us/r9/mnf/sp/dolly_scenic.html.
The area boasts several vintage steam train rides through fall foliage. Options include two- and five-hour trips at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park (304-456-4300, www.cassrailroad.com), about 24 miles northeast of Marlinton, starting at $15 on weekends. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad in Durbin operates a two-hour steam train ride through the Greenbrier River Valley; cost is $14. Info: 877-686-7245, www.mountainrail.com.
STAYING THERE: If you don't want to camp, rooms at the Jerico B&B (304-799-6241, www.jericobb.com), 30 minutes east of the national forest in Marlinton, run $65 to $75 a night in the main house for two people in the fall. Pre-Civil War cabins with wood stoves and modern kitchen facilities run from $85 to $160, not including breakfast. The Elk River Touring Center, about 17 miles up the road in Slatyfork, has rooms and cabins beginning at $68 for a double on weekends. Info: 866-572-3771, www.ertc.com.
EATING THERE: The River Place in Marlinton (814 First Ave., 304-799-7233) serves trout, chicken stir-fry and other moderately priced fare from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Elk River Touring Center serves an eclectic menu (from Thai noodles to halibut steak) with most entrees in the teens; open for dinner Thursday through Sunday.
INFO: Pocahontas County Tourism, 800-336-7009, www.pocahontas countywv.com.