Destination West Virginia: Seneca Rocks | WDVM25 and DCW50

SENECA ROCKS, W.Va. (WDVM) – Deep in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest lies Seneca Rocks, which provides the perfect place to unplug, breathe in the mountain air, and enjoy stunning views.

The climber’s paradise in Pendleton County has a lot to offer than it initially seems. Jeremiah Hyslop, director of Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, explains that while hiking and rock climbing is usually the main attraction in the area, it also offers recreational areas for camping as well as a gateway to the history of Seneca Rocks.

“We have, of course, Seneca Rocks which is a big draw. There is a path that goes up to a platform up there with a nice view of the area, ”Hylsop explained. “Then of course there is the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center and there are a lot of exhibits to explore. Then there is the historic ownership of the sites which is a property from the late 1800s. ”

You can start your trip by visiting the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, the first of its kind in the United States Forest Service. The area was established by Congress and the USDA Forest Service in 1965 and covers approximately 100,000 acres.

The Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area consists of three main units: the Spruce Knob unit, the Smoke Hole unit and the Seneca Rocks unit. The Smoke Hole unit offers beautiful views of the area on the Scenic Drive while the Seneca Rocks and Spruce Knob units offer hiking and rock climbing for all skill levels. The Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area is also home to the Spruce Knob Observation Tower which sits atop West Virginia’s highest peak.

You can either hike the Seneca Rocks Trail for the best views or for the more adventurous you can climb the face of the mountain. The Seneca Rocks hiking trail is only about a mile, but you will see an elevation gain of 900 feet as you climb the trail. However, the hike will give you amazing views from the observation deck.

Viewpoint from the observation deck on the Seneca Rocks hiking trail. Photo courtesy of Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area – US Forest Service

If you’re looking for a more controlled climbing environment, a short drive from Seneca Rocks is Nelson Rocks, where you’ll find N Rocks Outdoor Adventures. N Rocks offers a wide range of climbing experiences, including the Via Ferrata, a suspension bridge 150 feet in the air that spans the two Nelson Rocks fans.

Bryan Williams, N Rocks Outdoor Adventures director of operations, describes Via Ferrata as a unique style of climbing that bridges the gap between rock climbing and hiking.

“This is a very accessible activity for beginners which is always very exciting for those with climbing experience, and I think it is accessible to just about anyone with a physical shape. moderate. [level] and a fear of below average heights, ”said William.

The average Via Ferrata tour lasts 3 to 5 hours and participants must be 13 years of age or older and weigh between 88 and 265 pounds. In addition to their flagship rock climbing experience, N Rocks also offers a number of other guided tours in the area. The North Fork Valley Canopy Tour consists of 12 ziplines, three swing bridges, and ends with a setback of about 50 feet. The adventure company also offers more standard rope climbing, similar to the type of climbing you will find in most indoor or outdoor climbing areas.

N Rocks is also partnering with another local company, WILD GUYde Adventures, to offer wilderness caving tours. They also offer a variety of accommodations ranging from traditional tents to on-site cabins and motel-style rooms.

Seneca Rocks is off the beaten path and for the majority of your trip you won’t have cell service, so be sure to plan accordingly. Hyslop recommends taking a more old-fashioned approach when planning navigation for your trip.

“Go online and print a map, you know, or take a map, an actual paper map, or download the map you’re going to upload ahead of time,” Hyslop said. “We want you to responsibly recreate while having fun. “

For more information and resources on the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, please visit their United States Forest Service website.

For more information on N Rocks Outdoor Adventures or to book a tour, please visit N Rocks Outdoor Adventures website.

Whether you plan to hike, rock climb, or camp around the Seneca Rocks, always remember to let others know where you are going, bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and stick to the rules. environment. The Forest Service as well as avid hikers stick to the “pack it and pack it” saying, which means you should never leave trash or other items you brought in the environment.

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