WV-20 Interactive Route Map with Photo Points - Double-Click map to expand
Interactive Route Map with Photo Points - Click to expand

West Virginia
State Route 20

An interesting long-distance north-south route through hilly rural West Virginia. Densely forested in most places, runs through many little towns. has frequent and periodic good twisty road sections.

Section Covered:
Buckhannon, WV to Elton, WV

219km / 131mi

Ratings:   Rankings:
Scenic Impact 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Overall Score: 7.4
Twistiness 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Fun-to-Drive: 7.8
Surface Quality 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  
Traffic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Rankings and ratings explained

West Virginia State Route 20 is a long, rambling route that runs almost north-south, almost clear across the state of West Virginia. For it's entire length, it runs through the topography of the Appalachian Plateau -- a landscape consisting of a widespread, densely forested maze of steep little valleys. WV-20 connects many little rural towns, and you'll be encountering much of the flavour of Appalachia. There is farmland here and there, but the uneven-ness of the topography seems to preclude widespread open fields.

We only explored the stretch of WV-20 from Buckhannon in the north, down to where the highway meets Interstate-64. Still, this represents over 50% of WV-20's total length, so I'm guessing you'll get a good idea of what this road is like from this description.
Fall Mountain Driving
As mentioned above, the highway crosses the terrain of the Appalachian Plateau. This plateau is incised with countless little stream valleys, all arranged in repetitive tree-like pattern. Because this plateau is raised a fair ways up from sea-level, all of these little streams have cut into the plateau, creating an endless maze of little wooded valleys and ridges.

Highway 20 runs endlessly through this sort of terrain, and after a while, you'll start to notice a pattern: The highway will run through some valley for a while, usually going through a tiny little rural town. Then it heads out of the town, along said valley for a while, then cuts up and along a slope, usually following it quite closely -- (and this is the area where the good twisties are typically found). You then reach a divide between this little drainage and the next, and then are usually more good twisties down the other side. Then a different valley bottom (and less twisties for a while), another little town, and then all over again.
At another great turn
Right, then left
Smalltown West Virginia
The pavement is almost entirely good throughout, and there are many good sweeping twisties, mostly through shady groves of trees. Every so often, there's a nice burst of tighter twisties, sometimes with hairpin or two thrown in. The tightest of the twisties are mostly 'yellow-advisory-signed' in the 25-mph range.

Once outside of the little towns, the speed limit is always a very decent 55 mph, regardless of the level of twistiness.
Downtown Webster Springs
Hairpin on WV-20
Rounding a hairpin
Although the speed limits are decent, the frequency of little towns means that your overall average speed won't be that high.

I found traffic to be somewhere between light and moderate. There's enough of a density of towns to ensure that, I think. Overall it's not that busy, though (We sampled on a sunny autumn Sunday).
Rainelle, WV
55 is a-ok
Overall, this is definitely a worthwhile route. Scenically, it is interesting, but not oustanding, and there's a lot of in-forest driving (meaning not a lot of views). There's a lot of twistiness overall, and the period really tight sections are quite good. Pavement is almost always excellent, and there's not that much gravel (although I can think of one set of hairpins just outside of Webster Springs that was pretty dirty).
WV-20 Interactive Route Map with Photo Points - Double-Click map to expand
Route Data - WV-20 Drive, Buckhannon to I-64
Start Time: 9:26a.m.
End Time: 1:51p.m.
Duration: 4h24m
Distance: 219.1 km (136.14 mi)
Average Speed: 49.8 km/hr (30.9 mph)
Start Elevation: 1402ft (427m) *
Max Elevation: 3033ft (925m) *
Min Elevation: 1266ft (386m) *
End Elevation: 1569ft (478m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 7882ft (2402m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 7666ft (2337m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph

[ Introduction & Day 1 | Day 2 - Journeying South | Day 3 - Exploring West Virginia | Day 4 - Dragon's Tooth and Yet More Twisties | Day 5 - Final Twisties and Drive Home | Related Presentation: The Dragon's Tooth Hike | Ranked Summary of Twisty Roads | PA-549 | PA-144 | WV-72 | WV-20 | WV-16 & VA-16 | VA-311 | WV-39 & VA-39 | US-250 | US-33 | PA-125 | Road Rankings Explained ]

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