George Washington National Forest

Named for our first president, the George Washington National Forest is an incredible holding of public land located in Virginia and West Virginia. The United States Forest Service manages the vast network of National Forests, including the George Washington National Forest. The mission of the Forest Service is “Caring for the Land and Serving People,” a mandate that began with passage of the Organic Act of 1897.<p> The Organic Act provided the underpinning for an ecological approach to the management of publicly owned forest and grassland ecosystems. The Act requires the agency to: · Improve and protect the forests, · Emphasize "securing favorable conditions of waterflows", which led to the management of complete watersheds. · "Furnish a continuous supply of timber" which provided the basis for legislation that later spurred the principles of sustained yield. <p> The Organic Act also gave the Forest Service the ability to regulate unrestricted use of National Forests. It authorized the allocation of funds to manage the Forest Reserves and hire professional forest supervisors and rangers. <p> The Act's provisions for public benefits and uses beyond water and timber were a precursor to the concept of management for multiple-use. Over the years the Act has been greatly amended and supplemented by legislation that requires full public involvement in management of public lands, protection of Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, protection of air and preservation of rare species. <p> The George Washington National Forest is comprised of lands located in Virginia (956,222 Acres) and West Virginia (104,858 Acres). The totals for the combined George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are 1,646,328 acres in Virginia; 123,384 acres in West Virginia; and 961 acres in Kentucky. <p> Nelson County holds 19,411 acres of the 1.1 million acre national forest, including more than 950 miles of scenic trails.<p> The Old Hotel Trail, completed in 1989, makes an approximate 4-mile loop hike using part of the Appalachian Trail (AT). The Hotel Trail can be accessed from the parking lot for the Henry Lanum Trail. The trail takes off to the right of the parking lot as you enter from FDR 48. It winds through open fields and meadows, along Little Cove Creek, and intersects with the Appalachian Trail at Cow Camp Gap. A three-sided Appalachian Trail shelter is located nearby. Hikers can then turn northeasterly on the AT and hike approximately 2 miles to Hog Camp Gap. From there it is only a 10 minute hike back to the parking lot on FDR 48. <p>