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The North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River runs through the property at Harman’s, as well as behind Cabin No. 17.
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Harman's North Fork CottagesHarman%u2019s North Fork Cottages features luxurious cabins near Dolly Sods.
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The Entrancce to Harman'sAn immense cliff rises along the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac at the entrance to Harman%u2019s in Cabins, W.Va.
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The Harman's HeadquartersThe headquarters for Harman%u2019s is a cabin along the North Fork Highway.
With fly rod in hand, Allan Scanlan steps over the mountains of the Virginias to reach the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River. Several times a year, this retired salesman casts his luck at Harman’s North Fork Cottages, traveling from his home at Fincastle, Va., to settle into the quaint retreat called Harman’s near the appropriately named Cabins, W.Va.
“It only took one time,” says Scanlan, “and we were pretty much hooked on the place. It’s the private character of the water. The primary attraction is the river and the fishing. They have a super-nice program in how they stock and maintain the fish. It’s a catch-and-release stream only.”
This trout-stream paradise not only attracts fun-seekers like Scanlan, 66, wanting some downtime. “There’s a bond there that brings the people – the magical thing about it is the peace and quiet and the character of the land,” Scanlan says.
Harman’s also hosts fishing tournaments, which is why Kingsport, Tenn., author Keith Bartlett (“The Weekend Angler’s Guide to Good Fishing”) hooked into Harman’s. The 59-year-old Bartlett camped out, in luxury, during Harman’s North Fork Invitational in May.
“The Potomac Highlands of West Virginia is where I learned to fish,” Bartlett says, “so the area holds many special memories for me.”
Countless waterways of this remote area in northeastern West Virginia offer incredible variety to anglers. But, at Harman’s, you could simply park the car. “We never leave, and that’s great,” Scanlan says. “I enjoy every minute we’re there.”
This is a place these fishing fanatics are, also, willing to share.
“Stream access is literally outside the door from any of their cabins,” Bartlett says, “and the topography supports easy access for anglers of any age, skill level or physical condition. The section of the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River that flows through Harman’s is heavily stocked with rainbow, brown and brook trout, including fish large enough to impress the most experienced angler.”
HARMAN’S LUXURY LOG cabins are built on the banks of the private trophy trout stream. Here, you might see an eagle flying down the river or over rocky cliffs. “But you hear that river rolling by, as well – a lot of fast-moving water,” Scanlan says. “It’s not just the sights; it’s the sounds.”
As early as 1939, the family of Fred and Therma Mae Harman settled this area and lived in Cottage No. 1 – a structure that later became a rental unit. By the 1970s, both families and fishermen came to rent cottages on a daily and weekly basis. Eventually came the construction of newer cabins in Hopeville Canyon, bringing the total number of rentals to 20.
Harman’s North Fork Cottages overlook the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia. From here, follow some back roads – full of dust, gravel and grit – and you’ll slip into the Dolly Sods Wilderness, with its native vegetation in common with Canada. You can easily access an array of hiking, biking, canoeing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, skiing, horseback riding, golfing, and hunting opportunities.
All this? Yes, but Scanlan still just likes to fish – and take refuge with his wife, Molly, at Harman’s.
“It’s just a getaway. And it’s quiet,” Allan Scanlan says. “The place can be close to being full, and it can be heavily occupied. Yet it seems like there’s not a lot of people around.”
It is almost like camping: “We light a fire in the fire ring. We put hot dogs on a stick and have a wienie roast and take a pot of chili out there,” Scanlan says. “And the people are just incredibly accommodating. They go out of their way to help you any way they can.”
SOME OF THE FULLY FURNISHED rental cabins feature a Jacuzzi tub; some have hot tubs. All have a fireplace, televisions and a full kitchen. Most are made of logs; a recently built cabin features four bedrooms, three baths and more than 2,200 square feet. “We’ve stayed in about all of them,” Scanlan says. “Each cabin has a different feel. I would call them cozy – very, very comfortable, always very clean.”
Oh, and don’t forget the spacious porches with rockers. “Absolutely,” Scanlan says. “Sitting on that porch, it’s perfect for a cold iced tea or a cold beer.”
The oddball of it all: Cabin No. 17, which stands about three miles from the main resort yet still offers spectacular beauty. Rocky cliffs face the front door and back, plus you get your own grassy access to the river.
“You’re down there more to yourself,” says Deleney Ours, a Harman’s secretary and housekeeper.
Every trip to Harman’s offers new experiences and adventure, says Bartlett. “And when you get to Harman’s, you can leave your car unlocked, prepare some good food, relax in a hot tub and enjoy the fresh mountain air with a loved one. Life doesn’t get much better than that.”