Description - **Information provivded by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources**
Cathedral State Park is an ancient hemlock forest of majestic proportions, and one of the last living commemorations of the vast virgin hemlock forest which once flourished in the Appalachian highlands. Trees up to 90 feet in height and 21 feet in circumference form cloisters in the park. Throughout the woods, eastern hemlock is the dominant species.
The woods were preserved because of the love each owner had for this unique area. The land was eventually purchased, in 1922 by Mr. Branson Haas. Mr. Haas was a workman for the Brookside Hotel, which stood where the park superintendent's residence now stands. He sold the forest to the State of West Virginia in 1942, with the provision that it remain untouched by ax or saw. Mr. Haas served as caretaker until his death. On October 6, 1966, Cathedral State Park was entered in the National Registry for Natural Historical Landmarks, as "an area that possesses exceptional value in illustrating the natural history of the United States." It is of note this is the only stand of mixed virgin timber left in West Virginia. Also the largest hemlock tree in the state is located within the park.
On May 20, 1983, the Society of American Foresters recognized Cathedral in its National Natural Areas Program. As an "outstanding example of vegetative community in a near natural condition"..."with its associated biotic, edaphic, geologic and aquatic features dedicated for scientific and educational purposes". The area was registered because it is "maintained in the natural condition, by allowing physical and biological processes to operate, usually without direct human intervention."
- Cathedral State Park consists of 133 acres, located on Route 50, in Preston County in Northeastern, West Virginia. The region is hilly to mountainous, but the park is located on rather gently sloping ground with an elevation varying from 2460 to 2620 feet. Over 170 species of vascular flora have been catalogued; to include 9 species of fern, 3 club moss, over 30 tree species (17 broad leaf) and over 50 species of wildflowers.
Recreation - Nature Watching
Climate - West Virginia experiences four distinct seasons, none of which are extreme. Temperatures in the highlands of the Allegheny Mountains are somewhat more severe than the rest of the state. Generally temperatures during the winter months range from 15 to 40 degrees F. Ample snow accumulation provides for cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities. Spring brings blooming trees and shrubs to the forested regions of the state, as well as warmer temperatures. During this season, March through May, expect mild temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees F. Summers are normally hot with high humidity, especially at lower elevations. Expect temperatures to range from 70 at night to 95 during the dog days of August. Fall brings cool, crisp air to West Virginia and spectacular foliage color changes. Bring a light jacket for this season, which brings temperatures between 35, at night, to 70 degrees F, during the day.
Cathedral State Park is located on Rt. 50 near Aurora, WV, approximately five miles west of Red House, MD.