You think I can climb that?

I’m not sure at this point if it’s easier or harder than it looks, but Seneca Rocks is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Martinsburg, and I was sure going to try to walk, hop, or climb to the top!  I did know that if the view is this breathtaking from the bottom, it has to be even better at the top.  Anyway, it was time to hit the trail…

How high is it? (Gulp!)

Switchbacks?  You must be kidding!  That meant the three of us (including Tom and Candee) would be zigzagging to the top of the mountain.  A 1000′ gain in elevation in 1.5 miles is–in a word–steep.  In the old days, trains used switchbacks as a means of climbing to the tops of mountains.  I sure hoped that I wouldn’t run out of steam by the time I got to the top!

This is too good to be true! Easy and flat!

Hah!  Is this what you call steep?  When I was a tadpole, I swam in water that was steeper than this!  Okay, maybe I’m stretching the truth a little bit.  See the bridge in the picture?  It crosses the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River.  Wow!  That’s a really long name for a river!  Like I was saying, we crossed the river, went around a bend, and everything was uphill from there.  I’m out of breath just thinking about it.

We made it! Wow, it took us 50 minutes to walk up here, but look at the view--it's worth it!

I didn’t complain much on the way to the top, and I was rewarded with one of the most scenic views in the entire state.  Check out some of the places below: the visitors’ center and Harper’s Old Country Store look like dollhouses!  There have been a lot of climbers and hikers to make it to the top of Seneca Rocks, but I’m pretty sure that I’m the first travel frog.  Wow, I feel like I’m Sir Edmund Hillary!

The tell-tale sign of climbers...we could hear them but we couldn't see them.


This is another view looking off toward the west.  This part of West Virginia is known as the Potomac Highlands.  Seneca Rocks is 2400′ above sea level, but some of the mountains in this picture are well over 4000′.  One of these days I hope to see Spruce Knob.  It’s the highest point in West Virginia at 4863′ .

Always follow the can be very dangerous up here if you don't!

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to signs.  Since 1971, 15 climbers have died while trying to climb Seneca Rocks.

Look what we found on the way down the trail! Does anyone know what it's called?

We found this fine looking fellow at about the 2000′ mark.  In rugged terrains such as this, many of the plants and animals are rare or endangered, so it’s always a good idea to give them their space.  Much of the flora and fauna only exists at certain elevations, and you never know what you’ll find while exploring a mountainside.  When we returned to the visitors’ center, we looked through the Audubon Guide for amphibians, but we couldn’t make an exact identification of this salamander.  If anyone knows for sure, please leave a comment!

We climbed to the top! (left side)

See the gap in the rock face?  Until the eighties, a narrow spire stood in the middle of the U-shaped dip.  It was known as the gendarme–or gunsight.  I would have liked to have seen it back then, but Seneca Rocks is still one of the most awe-inspiring places in the state of West Virginia.  I would highly recommend a visit, and while you’re there, you might as well take the extra couple of hours and take the trail to the top.  The view is something you’ll never forget.

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6 Responses to “A Beautiful Day at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia (Polly #5)”

  1. Your amphibian friend looks like a Red Eft salamander.

  2. Great post…you should get a job working for one of the travel magazines. I enjoyed your humor and the pictures are fantastic. Where are you going next?

  3. M.M.,

    Thank you for your comments. I’m kind of torn between going to Spruce Knob or taking another bike ride down the C&O. Next year I’d like to take a bike trip on the Great Allegheny Passage. Wow! I need to concentrate on one idea at a time.

  4. It sounds like you had a great workout! I will put these location in my “Golden Pond” list.

  5. Nice post. Beautiful pictures!

  6. I used to hike and backpack in the Dollyb Sods and Spruce Knob areas. My sister and I hiked up Seneca Rock when the Gendarme still stood. The Visitor Center was spectacular and was always so welcome with its flush toilets and hot water when we came out of 5-6 days in the wilderness. Unfortunately the Visitor Center was wiped out in the horrible flooding in November 1985. Ah to be young again in only my 40s and 50s, when I could leap from rock to rock like a mountain goat. Now I have to call a Boy Scout to get across the street, lol.