Did you know that the Eastern Panhandle has a 23,000 acre state managed wilderness area. It’s The Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Park and it’s located between Berkeley & Morgan County. It runs from Hedgesville on the north end down to the Virginia line on the south end. It’s a huge forest and a great spot for hiking, camping, fishing.
The Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area is not a manicured state park. It’s pretty much left to nature and not overused so it has retained the natural beauty. It’s purpose is to provide and preserve the natural habitat of the wildlife in the area. It provides a wonderful hiking and camping experience although a bit more rugged than what is typcal in a state park. But if you love nature untouched, you’ll love the area – especially if you are the outdoors type.
So if you are into camping, There are four separate camping areas with a total of 75 camping sites and they are pretty primitive – they do have a fire ring and lantern pole and Pit toilets are nearby but that’s it on amenities. Lower Campground has 22 sunny campsites with nice views. Piney Point Campground has a mixture of campsites some sunny, some shady, and some on the lake. Meyer’s Place Campground is at the site of an old homestead with campsites near the water and up on a hill. Lastly, there is Upper Campground. It has a total of 22 campsites providing both exposed and shaded areas. You can camp 14 days there
If you are into hiking, There’s several curated hiking trails in the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Area. They range from 1.5 miles up to 14 miles.
2 of them are in the northern part of the park just west of the Sleepy Hollow community. You can take Audobon Rd up to the Devil Nose parking area. That will take you to the Devils Nose trails..One is 1.5 miles and the other is 8.5 miles.
7 hiking trails are west of the Woods Resort Community. Those trails are all from 1 to 4 miles and described as moderate. Winter Camp Trail out of the Woods leads to those trails.
And then there’s 3 trails to the south. And you get to those trails from Sleepy Creek Rd which is off Back Creek Valley Rd in Hedgesville,. One of those trails goes around the lake. They’re about 12-14 miles long – a little more challenging.
Even the trails described as moderate aren’t like a walk on a level manicured path. These trails can be rocky and some areas aren’t cleared of brush so come prepared to deal with that.
If you are into birding, there are several recommended spots. The Potomac Audobon website lists 6 areas that are good for birding. All those spots are along Sleepy Creek Rd which is the entrance to the park. 3 of those sites are along the lake.
If you are into fishing or canoeing, there’s the Sleepy Creek Lake which is a 205 acre lake within the park. There is a boat launch but No gas engines are allowed.
The lake and campsites are about 10 minutes up the mountain after you enter the park and the road gets pretty rough as you near the lake. So You’ll need a 4 wheel drive and any trailers over 17 feet won’t make it through the narrow roads.
You can access Sleepy Creek WMA from Berkeley Springs, and Hedgesville. From Berkeley Springs follow Route 522 south to Winchester Grade Road turn left and go 12 miles to Shanghai Road. Go east on Shanghai Road into the park. From Martinsburg, follow take Route 9 about nine miles west to Back Creek Valley Road. From the – follow Back Creek Valley Road south about seven miles to Sleepy Creek Road. Follow Sleepy Creek Road west into the WMA.
This whole park is teaming with wildlife. You’ll see wild flowers and a variety of bird species. Just about all of it is forest except right around the lake. It’s a beautiful area untouched or lightly touched wilderness.