With more than 14,000 acres of moderate to steep slopes, forested hills and partially timbered land, Lewis Wetzel Wildlife Management Area is the perfect place for an outdoor adventure. Far away from noisy interstates and busy cities, visiting Lewis Wetzel WMA is like going back to a time when people still lived off the land. In fact, this WMA is about as rugged as when Lewis Wetzel, a famed frontiersman and scout, roamed these hills.
Whether you enjoy hunting big game, trout fishing, birdwatching or hiking trails, Lewis Wetzel WMA has something to offer all kinds of nature lovers. Here’s everything you need to know before you plan a trip.
Lewis Wetzel WMA At-a-Glance
- Open: All year
- Size: 14,081 acres
- Elevation: 736-1,560 feet
- Terrain: Moderate to steep slopes, oak-hickory forests, stands of mixed and cove hardwoods, linear forest openings
- Big Game: Deer, turkey
- Small Game: Squirrel, racoon, grouse
- Trapping: Mink, raccoon, red and grey fox, bobcat, coyote, skunk, opossum
- Fishing Waters: Buffalo Run, South Fork of Fishing Creek
- Game Fish: Smallmouth bass, rock bass, trout
- Accommodations: Primitive campground, shooting range,
- Nearby: Lantz Farm and Nature Preserve
Accessing Lewis Wetzel WMA
Located in Wetzel, Tyler and Doddridge counties, Lewis Wetzel WMA offers incredible hunting lands, fishing streams and wide open space for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy in West Virginia’s scenic northern counties. The WMA is only one mile from Jacksonburg, 24 miles southeast of New Martinsville, 39 miles northwest of Clarksburg and 18 miles west of Middlebourne. The WMA can be accessed by Arches Fork, Buffalo Run and Piney Fork off Rt. 20, and by Lefthand Fork in Tyler County.
Active Management at Lewis Wetzel WMA
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources oversees Lewis Wetzel WMA. Due to its location in the state’s oil and gas fields, Lewis Wetzel WMA contains pipelines and other infrastructure for mineral extraction, which creates linear forest openings beneficial to many wildlife species.
Management practices at Lewis Wetzel WMA are focused on forest management. This includes timber harvesting, which creates cuts in the forest and scattered stands with trees in various stages of regeneration. This is beneficial for forest health and a variety of wildlife species.
The WMA features early successional habitat, which is created by border edge cuts along forest and linear openings. Forest openings are maintained in herbaceous cover by mowing and strip disking and are periodically reseeded with legume mixes. Soft mast trees also have been established in and around forest openings to provide food for wildlife and water holes have been created at forest openings to provide habitat. Non-native invasive plant species are controlled with the use of herbicides in wildlife openings and timber stand improvement areas.
Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Opportunities at Lewis Wetzel WMA
Hunting and Trapping
Big game hunters visiting Lewis Wetzel WMA can find white-tailed deer and wild turkey in abundance. In recent years, black bear sightings have increased, giving bear hunters more opportunities at the WMA. Small game also can be found and includes squirrel, raccoon and ruffed grouse. Lewis Wetzel WMA also is home to a variety of furbearers, including mink, raccoon, red and grey fox, bobcat, coyote, skunk and opossum.
The portion of Lewis Wetzel WMA lying east of Buffalo Run is set-up for walk in hunting only. On the west side of Buffalo Run, Hasting Ridge Road is open for vehicular access during the spring gobbler season and fall hunting seasons. Access to the Hasting Ridge Road is at Bob Campbell Hill, Carbide and Sees Run on Buffalo Run. A Class Q facility for hunters with disabilities is located in the upper section of Buffalo Run.
Those who wish to trap on the WMA will need a trapping license and a free trapping permit, which can be obtained from the area wildlife manager or WVDNR district wildlife biologist. All other West Virginia hunting and trapping regulations and license requirements apply. To purchase a license, visit wvhunt.com.
The best place to cast a line in Lewis Wetzel WMA is in the South Fork of Fishing Creek, which has smallmouth bass and gets stocked with trout once a month between January and April. There also is limited fishing opportunities along Buffalo Run. All West Virginia fishing regulations and license requirements apply. To purchase a license, visit wvfish.com.
Outdoor Recreation at Lewis Wetzel WMA
In addition to great hunting and fishing, Lewis Wetzel WMA’s many miles of trails make it a good place for hiking and birdwatching. If you’ve never heard the call of a whip-poor-will, make sure you plan a visit during a summer evening to listen for this unique bird.
Lewis Wetzel WMA is also has a primitive campground with 20 tent and trailer sites and a 100-yard shooting range, which is open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset. Nearby attractions include the Lantz Farm and Nature Preserve, located in Jacksonburg. Limited hunting, fishing, hiking and bird watching activities are also available there.