About WVU Core Arboretum
WVU Core Arboretum is a public greenspace that has a botanical garden and an old growth forest preserve. We welcome visitors free of charge every day, from dawn to dusk. Free parking for visitors is available at the Arboretum parking lot or the adjacent WVU Coliseum Parking Lot. Nearby restrooms are in the WVU Creative Arts Center, across Monongahela Boulevard. Trail maps and other information are available free of charge at the information kiosk near the Arboretum parking lot. WVU Core Arboretum is managed by WVU Department of Biology.
WVU Core Arboretum is an outdoor facility dedicated to supporting the research, teaching, and service efforts of WVU by providing resources and opportunities for the study and enjoyment of plants, animals, and natural processes. The Arboretum also provides important recreational opportunities and pedestrian connections for WVU and Morgantown. Our resources and opportunities are shared freely with the public as well as the WVU community.
WVU Core Arboretum was established in 1948 and is located on a 91-acre tract of hillside and bottomland near the WVU Coliseum, between Monongahela Boulevard and the Monongahela River. The Arboretum has 3 miles of foot trails, lawns with more than 150 species of planted trees and shrubs, old growth temperate deciduous forest on hillside and floodplain sites, interpretive signs, trailside benches, a small woodland amphitheater, and an information kiosk. The name of the Arboretum honors its founder, WVU botanist Earl L. Core, and many of our trails are named for other botanists who were influential in WV and the Arboretum.
An arboretum is typically a botanical garden devoted mostly to trees, with planted trees for visitors to enjoy. At WVU Core Arboretum, we do have an area that is a botanical garden where we plant trees and other plants. Among our planted trees and shrubs are many oak and pine species, a spectacular dawn redwood, and several rhododendron and azalea species. The botanical garden section of this arboretum is mostly limited to the mowed lawn areas near the parking lot, and the majority of WVU Core Arboretum would be more correctly called an old-growth forest preserve.
The old-growth forest preserve section of WVU Core Arboretum has a variety of natural habitats in which more than 80 species of native WV trees and shrubs and over 250 native WV herbaceous plants may be found. Some of the large trees in the Arboretum are likely over 200 years old. The Arboretum is well known as a superb site to see spring ephemeral wildflowers from late March to early May, and our guided spring wildflower walks are a long-standing tradition. Varied habitats and riverside location also make the area an excellent site to observe birds and animals with over 180 bird species reported at the Arboretum. Silver maple, sycamore, and wild black cherry dominate the floodplain forests of the Arboretum with large stands of spicebush and pawpaw trees in the understory. We have the tallest silver maple in the state growing in the rich bottomland of the Arboretum. Sugar maple, black maple, various oak species, hackberry, various hickory species, and some other trees dominate the drier hillside forests above the rail-trail. The second largest scarlet oak tree in WV can be found on the hillside in the Arboretum.
WVU Core Arboretum welcomes visitors free of charge every day from dawn to dusk, and we offer many free nature education programs that draw hundreds of people to the Arboretum each year. Arboretum programs include our spring bird and flower walks, summer Nature Connection Series nature lectures and fall pawpaw tasting events. The Arboretum is also a popular destination for scout groups, afterschool groups, garden clubs, nature clubs, etc. Volunteers help keep the Arboretum beautiful, and interested volunteers should go to the volunteer section of our website for more information about our volunteer program.
Our trail network is somewhat steep in places, but heavily used and very loved. The trails along the river are about 200 feet lower in elevation than those at the top of the Arboretum. Generally, trails running parallel to the river are not very steep, and those running perpendicular to the river are steep, or at least have steep sections (indicated on the trail map). The Guthrie Loop is fairly level, and it is close to the parking lot. The Strausbaugh Trail is another mostly gentle "out and back" option at the top of the hill. The Service Road is the easiest way to access the lower trails between the Caperton Rail-Trail and the river. The Caperton Rail-Trail passes through the Arboretum, linking visitors to a large, far-reaching, and growing rail-trail system. In fact, many people access the fairly level lower Arboretum trails from Star City via the Rail-Trail (a level, 1-mile walk). The Service Road at the Arboretum is an important pedestrian corridor that connects Monongahela Boulevard, the WVU Coliseum parking lot, and WVU Evansdale Campus to the Caperton Rail-Trail and Downtown. We also have a permanently marked running loop beginning at the Coliseum Parking Lot with signs that guide runners (or walkers, of course) through the Arboretum on a 1.75 mile loop. Well-behaved dogs are welcome on our trails as long as they are kept on leash, and the Arboretum is a popular spot for people to walk their dogs.
Groups interested in using the Arboretum should contact Zach Fowler, WVU Core Arboretum Director: firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-293-0387.
The WVU Core Arboretum is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
WVU Core Arboretum Brochure (pdf)