Monongahela National Forest makes the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois look like Chicago's Lincoln Park or New York's Central Park. MNF, located in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, was established in 1920. It protects over 921,000 acres of rugged landscape and spectacular vistas, including most of the highest peaks in the state. The highest is 4,863-foot-high Spruce Knob. It is a recreation destination and a major tourism attraction. MNF is home to black bears, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, 230 known species of birds and 75 species of trees. More than 3 million visitors annually participate in camping, canoeing, hunting, trapping, fishing and wildlife viewing while taking in the breathtaking views, driving the peaceful country roads, fishing in the miles of streams and glimpsing the plants and animals that inhabit the forest. There are two visitors centers--at Cranberry Mountain Nature Center and Seneca Rock Discovery Center. There are two visitors observation towers--Bickie Knob Tower and Olson Tower. There are 17 picnic areas and 23 campgrounds, 129 miles of warm-water fishing streams, 578 miles of trout streams and 825 miles of hiking trails. For example, the Glady to Durbin West Fork Railroad is 23 miles along. MNF is pristine, solitary, peaceful, quiet. Drive through the park, stop for a picnic lunch, marvel at the views, observe the wildlife, enjoy nature and take a short hike through the woods. For someone who lives in downtown Chicago, it is a surreal experience.
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