Metal Detecting in West Virginia: A Complete Guide for 2022

If you are a metal detecting enthusiast and are looking for a comprehensive guide on metal detecting in West Virginia, you’ve come to the right place.

One of the best hobbies to start in 2022 is metal detecting. It allows you to escape reality and embark on an adventure while earning money. When it comes to treasure hunting and metal detecting, West Virginia is one of the top places. The weather is ideal for metal detecting, and the area is rich with gold and undiscovered riches. The adventure is fascinating, and you never know if you’ll uncover jewelry, coins, artifacts from the Civil War, or even riches. However, you should do your homework and learn about the state and federal rules governing metal detecting in the Mountain State.

Metal detecting laws in West Virginia

Like every other state, metal detecting in West Virginia has its own set of laws and regulations.

West Virginia’s metal detecting rules are rather basic. Simply avoid disturbing any historical objects or digging in locations with major historical significance. If you wish to go metal detecting in West Virginia, I would strongly advise you to avoid historical lands. Because prevention is always preferable to treatment, think twice before excavating aboriginal mounds, burial sites, or earthworks.

Metal detecting without permission is also prohibited on Civil War battlefields and Native American grounds. You might get lucky and acquire permission to detect metal in these sites on rare occasions.

Also bear in mind, that metal detecting on Trust’s land is also illegal in West Virginia without the authorized permit.

Because West Virginia is rich in historical lands and waters, it may appear that metal detecting is restricted in many regions, yet this is far from the case. You will be able to better read and navigate the laws after you have a better understanding of them.

You’ll also need to know the law involving private property as a competent metal detectorist. Because most of West Virginia is considered private property, you’ll need permission from the landowner to detect or dig for treasure.

Overall, while metal detecting in West Virginia, it is critical to understand and respect the regulations. Breaking these regulations will result in harsh consequences, such as fines or, in the worst-case scenario, jail time. If you plan to detect a new site in West Virginia, it’s a good idea to contact the city, county, and state officials to ensure you’re following all applicable rules.

Related: Dumpster Diving in West Virginia: A Comprehensive Guide

Is it legal to metal detect in West Virginia?

Yes, it is completely legal to metal detect in West Virginia. However, there are limitations to this legality. As I already mentioned, it is illegal to go metal detecting in historic lands, state parks and civil war battlefields, and some federal lands in West Virginia without authorized permits. However, there are thousands of abandoned buildings, ghost towns, drives, lakes, parks, streams, and trails, which are completely open to metal detectorists in West Virginia.

Where can you metal detect in West Virginia?

Even though the laws of West Virginia have prohibited some of the best historically significant metal detecting spots in the state, there is no shortage of other great places you can go for metal detecting.

If you are a local to this state, I would highly recommend you to explore your hometown first. And if you are a tourist, try to understand the history of the location that you want to metal detect. It will not only save you time but also give you a chance to hunt for great treasure. The places you choose to metal detect and the history of the place will define what you’ll find and how much value it holds.

All in all, metal detecting with historical research will yield better returns compared to detecting on random lands.

Some of the best places you can go for metal detecting in West Virginia are:

  1. Abandoned Buildings, Parks, and Structures of West Virginia
  2. Old train routes
  3. Trails and Forests
  4. Natural Disaster Destruction Sites
  5. West Virginia Beaches, Rivers, Lakes, and Creeks
  6. School yards and Civil war sites
  7. West Virginia Ghost Towns

Is there any buried treasure in West Virginia?

West Virginia is not only a beautiful state with amazing landscapes but it also has a rich history and chronicles. West Virginia has a great amount of buried or lost treasure that dates back to the civil war. Although a lot of these stories lack supporting evidence, treasure hunters and metal detectorists are positive that they’ll find it one day.

Some of the most popular stories on buried or hidden treasure in West Virginia are as follows:

Charleston Buried TreasureIn 1976, a farmer buried large treasure of gold and silver coins in a ground in Charleston. The farmer was later killed by the Indian’s during the Pontiac’s War. The treasure has not yet been found.
The Lost John Swift TreasureAn unknown amount of silver and gold is said to be stored by mine workers in a cave at the headwaters of the Buckhannon River where the old Seneca War Trail crosses.
Revolutionary War Veterans Buried TreasureIron kettle of gold and silver coins are said to be hidden by war veterans near the town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
The Carpenter Farm TreasureIn 1930’s $2000 worth of gold and silver coins were buried in the Carpenter farm near Bear Fork about 9 miles east of Grantsville, West Virginia. It is still undiscovered!
Raven RockThe Ohio River runs through Raven Rock. On the riverbanks near Raven Rock, relics and antique bottles, which are valuable in and of themselves, are frequently discovered. The objects could have come from another shipwreck.

Metal detecting on West Virginia Beaches

West Virginia is a land-locked state and is not popular for the beaches with beautiful sea-views. However, visitors can swim, kayak, or read a book while basking in the sun on the state’s clear water beaches, which are surrounded by magnificent lakes, streams, and rivers.

Metal detecting is ideal for recovering lost jewelry and coins on these West Virginia beaches. As a result, you’ll see a large number of other metal detectorists traveling to the West Virginia beaches in the evening for their metal detecting experience.

As of writing this article, metal detecting at public West Virginia beaches are perfectly legal. However, if you find any stuff with archaeological importance, the state of West Virginia has a right to take it away from you.

Some of the most famous beaches to go for metal detecting in West Virginia are:

  1. Summersville Lake Beach
  2. Sutton Lake Beach
  3. Jennings Randolph Lake Beach
  4. Tygart Lake State Park
  5. Lake Sherwood Beach

Metal detecting in West Virginia Rivers

West Virginia is not only rich in lakes but also in rivers and creeks. It is an excellent site to go metal detecting because it has multiple rivers, creeks, and streams. When detecting in rivers and streams, make sure you have adequate waterproof metal detectors.

In West Virginia, some of the best rivers and creeks for metal detecting are:

  1. Big Sandy Creek, Preston County
  2. Blackwater River, Tucker County
  3. Greenbrier River, Pocahontas County
  4. Laurel Fork, Randolph
  5. Mud River, Cabell/Lincoln County
  6. Seneca Creek, Pendleton County

Metal detecting in Ghost Towns of West Virginia

West Virginia is a home to thousands of ghost towns. These are the towns where mining used to be done and the residents simply abandoned it when the ore ran out. There are countless other old cities where residents have left for a variety of reasons.

All of these small, abandoned villages and cities in West Virginia are called ghost towns. These communities add to West Virginia’s extensive history. Keep in mind that metal detecting in West Virginia’s ghost towns may require permission from the local government. Ghost towns in West Virginia will undoubtedly become one of your favorite spots to go metal once you figure out if you need a permission and obtain one if necessary.

You may find various historical artifacts in these ghost towns. Furthermore, finding a coin spill, fine jewelry, or other expensive items in these ghost towns of West Virginia is not unusual.

Some of the popular ghost towns in West Virginia for metal detecting are:

  1. Claremont (Fayette County, WV)
  2. Hawk’s Nest (Fayette County, WV)
  3. Blue Sulphur Springs (Greenbrier County, WV)
  4. Fire Creek (Fayette County, WV)
  5. Keeyneys Creek (Fayette County, WV)

Metal detecting clubs in West Virginia

Metal detecting is one of my favorite activities since it allows me to reconnect with old friends while also making new ones. I definitely recommend joining a metal detecting group in WV if you want to meet new people and go on a metal detecting trip with them.

Metal detecting groups may be a great source of information and can even help you find new places to detect. You’ll probably have trouble configuring your metal detector for a specific spot as a beginner. Joining a metal detecting club is a good way to deal with this problem.

West Virginia does not have any shortage of great metal detecting clubs. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran metal detectorist, metal detecting clubs in WV can help you enhance your skills.

Metal detecting clubs do not have to be online. Facebook groups are a great way to connect with fellow West Virginia Metal Detectorists and share your knowledge and skills. 

Some of the best Metal detecting clubs in West Virginia are:

  1. W. Virginia Historical Preservation Society (Capon Bridge, West Virginia)
  2. Northern Virginia Relic Hunters Association (Clifton, Virginia)
  3. Hampton Roads Recovery Society (Hampton, Virginia)
  4. Central Virginia Relic Hunter’s Association (Richmond, Virginia)

Similarly, some of the most popular Metal Detecting Facebook groups in WV are:

  1. Metal Detecting WV
  2. WV Metal Detecting Group
  3. Metal Detectors Finds and for Sale
  4. Group for Metal Detecting Finds

Final Thoughts

West Virginia is an excellent place to go metal detecting. West Virginia’s natural beauty, history, weather, and relaxed regulations make this a fun pastime to partake in. Make sure you’re familiar with West Virginia’s metal detecting laws before attempting it in public. If you’re on private land, make sure you ask permission first; else, you could face trespassing charges.