Location: Grant and Pendleton counties, West Virginia
Of Note: At 4,863 feet above sea level, Spruce Knob is West Virginia's highest peak
Directions:From the north: Take Whitmer Road (CO29) south from US33 (one mile west of Harman) to Whitmer for 8.3 miles. From Whitmer continue south on Whitmer Road for 10.3 miles and turn left on Forest Road 1 for 2.5 miles to the campground and lake. Trailheads are nearby this area.
Trails:Approximately 70 miles of hiking trails offer splendid panoramic views in the Spruce Knob area.
Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Rock Climbing
Contact:Potomac Ranger District, HC 59, Box 240, Petersburg, WV 26847
- Spruce Knob observation tower: A stone and steel observation tower sits atop the Knob, providing visitors with a vantage point from which to enjoy a 360 degree view. The half-mile Whispering Spruce Trail circles the knob and provides panoramic views. Interpretive signs along the gentle, graveled trail describe the high country vegetation, geology and animal life. Vault toilets, picnic tables and vehicle parking complete the facilities available at the tower.
- Tiny Gatewood campground, and Spruce Knob Lake campground: Tiny Gatewood Campground has only six sites, while Spruce Knob Lake Campground contains 43 sites. You may choose to "rough it" and camp away from these designated campgrounds as long as you are careful to leave no trace of your campsite and pack out all garbage. For more information click here.
- Picnic Area: The picnic area lies one and a half miles south of the observation tower. A well, vault toilets, picnic tables and barbecue grills are nestled among a dense stand of spruce trees.
Encompassing 100,000 acres, the scenic Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area (NRA) contains the highest peak in West Virginia, some of the best rock climbing on the east coast and outstanding mountain views in the great West Virginia outdoors.
Congress established the Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks NRA in 1965. This area is a part of the Monongahela National Forest and is unique because it was the first National Recreation Area to be designated in the USDA Forest Service.
The Forest Service was directed to manage this special area with emphasis on the outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, cultural resource protection and scientific study. Other resources are managed in harmony with these emphasized activities. Timber harvest are designed to create openings beneficial for wildlife and create vistas as well as to contribute to the nation's hardwood supplies.
Cattle or sheep graze many of the open areas, which not only provide meat and wool, but also maintain these areas in their open state, retaining the visual qualities and benefiting wildlife. Parts of the National Recreation Area are leased for natural gas production; openings built for gas wells are seeded with game supporting grasses. Some areas are leased to farmers who raise corn or hay, continuing the rural agriculture landscape that has existed here for nearly 200 years.
Many thousands of acres of unspoiled quiet land await discovery. Use your imagination to see how the area may have looked to the early settlers, as they crested the mountain ridges or moved up the river. Imagine living a selfsufficient life on a high hillside farm. Envision the Indians gathering food on hunting forays. You will discover not only the beauty of West Virginia, but a sense of national history in this unique area.
The Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks NRA offers enjoyable outdoor recreation and is a central location that makes an ideal "home base" for the visitor who desires to see the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.
At 4,863 feet above sea level, Spruce Knob is West Virginia's highest peak. From this rugged alpine peak, you can view grassy openings and pastures or look down on forested ridges as far as the eye can see. The vegetation here has adapted to a harsh environment. One-sided red spruce deformed by constant exposure to strong westerly winds cling to the high rocky ridges. Blueberry and huckleberry plants hug the ground. Mountain ash dot the landscape and brighten autumn days with brilliant foliage. From May through July, the flowers of azaleas, mountain laurel and rhododendron appear. Hardwood forest of beech, birch, maple and cherry cover the lower elevations. The severe climate here means that cold fogs and strong winds can occur even in summer. Snow covers much of the area during winter months and roads are sometimes closed, or passable only with fourwheel drive vehicles.
Nearby Spruce Knob Lake provides the angler with a 25 acre impoundment regularly stocked with trout by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. A wood pier provides level, easy access for all visitors and is close to the parking area. Anglers may also enjoy stream fishing for rainbow, brown and brook trout in the Gandy Creek and Seneca Creek drainages.
click on any picture above for a larger view
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