If you take a quick look at the map, it appears the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests cover most of western Virginia. The sad fact is that the actual boundary of the National Forest is a patchwork with private and public property blending together.
I ran into this problem as I began to plan my trip to fish Laurel Fork on the western edge of Virginia. Nominally, it is a 3 mile hike from the parking lot to the stream – necessitating an overnight camping trip. But, the road crosses the stream… Could I get access there and avoid a 3 mile hike? Using the document below (click on it to get your copy), I discovered the sad fact the National Forest is tantalizingly close to that bridge crossing. Unfortunately, a narrow band of approximately 200 feet of private property separates the road from the stream. Therefore, I’ve got a 3 mile hike in front of me in June when I head up there.
But, there are other uses for this information as well. If you’re after wild brook trout, this map is key to discovering whether that small stream runs on public or private property and whether the access is legal. The downside of the book is that it is very confusing to navigate. It took me about 10 minutes to finally find the map section to answer my question on Laurel Fork. At any rate, I did receive a definitive answer and will use this document in the future when I have similar questions.
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Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore