During our second day in the Allegheny Highlands, my mom and I spent the day exploring two state parks and one National Recreational Area in Tucker and Pendleton Counties.
BLACKWATER FALLSThe first stop of the day was at Blackwater Falls State Park, which is located approximately 40 miles northeast of Elkins, WV in Tucker County near the town of Davis. The highlight and namesake of the park is Blackwater Falls, whose amber-colored water plummets 62 feet creating one of the most iconic and most photographed sites in West Virginia.
The "black water" is the result of tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles.
In order to get to the falls, we had to walk down a winding set of 200+ stairs to reach the bottom of the gorge. The view was well worth the hike.
Just a few miles southeast of Blackwater Falls is Canaan Valley. Canaan Valley is the highest valley east of the Mississippi River and features the first commercial ski area in West Virginia. Located within this valley is Canaan Valley Resort State Park.
This state park encompasses over 6000 square acres. Visitors to the park can partake in any number of activities such as golfing, swimming, hiking, biking, clay shooting, or skiing.
|Canaan Valley Ski Lodge|
Mom and I opted to ride the scenic chairlift to the top of the mountain for a bird's eye view of the immense valley. On the way up, our view was fairly restricted to the empty chairs before us and the grassy ski slopes underneath us that were dotted with these little yellow flowers.
The view from the top, despite the interfering chairlift equipment and light poles that obscured the view, was quite stunning. I found it hard to believe that such a wide valley could actually exist in West Virginia, the mountain state.
Some of the visitors chose to walk the two miles down the mountain back to the ski lodge, but my mom and rode back down, making the most of our $7 roundtrip ticket. It was a perfectly pleasant day, the weather was mild, and the only sound we heard was of the chairlift. We simply enjoyed the peaceful moment and the lovely view as we descended back to the valley below.
From Canaan Valley, we drove 23 miles southeast into Pendleton County. As we approached the intersection of Route 33 and Route 55, we saw the large crag, known as Seneca Rocks, rise up towards the sky.
Seneca Rocks is a steep, rugged rock face located in the little town of the same name in Pendleton County. It is one of the most well known landmarks in West Virginia.
Rising nearly 900 feet above the North Fork River, the magnificent rock formation is supposedly the only "true peak" (a peak only accessible by using technical rock climbing techniques) in the eastern United States. With 375 major mapped climbing routes ranging in difficulty from 5.0 (easiest) to 5.13 (hardest), Seneca Rocks is very popular with rock climbers. For climbers who wish to advance their climbing skills, two local climbing schools offer rock climbing trainings for the beginner and the advanced.
Seeing as how neither my mother or I are climbers, our visit to Seneca Rocks consisted mainly of viewing the majestic formation from the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, which is located at the base of the Seneca Rocks.
In the teenie town of Seneca Rocks, there are not a lot of amenities. We saw three dining options - a Subway, Yokum's Restaurant, and the Front Porch Restaurant. Having read good reviews on TripAdvisor, we decided to give the Front Porch a try.
If you ever find yourself in Seneca Rocks, don't let the exterior of the Front Porch Restaurant discourage you. The restaurant, located on the second floor, offers good food in an unpretentious environment. Dining is available both inside and outside on the porch. If you sit outside on the porch, you get an incredible view as you eat your meal (despite the ugly power line). I wish I had brought binoculars so I could've watched the climbers scale the steep rock face.
Mom and I both had pizza, which was extremely tasty (even my mother thought so).
Elkins, where we stayed during our visit, is about 36 miles east of Seneca Rocks. As we drove back, we encountered dozens of motorcyclists. The area, as we later discovered, is very popular with bikers for the scenic views and the wide, open roads.
Later that night, the view from our hotel (Hampton Inn, Elkins) was once again pretty spectacular.
Know Before You Go
- Cell phone service was more readily available in these areas than in the areas we traveled the day before. But, it was still inconsistent. I would advise bringing printed directions and a good map just in case your phone mapping/directions app doesn't work.
- Due to the higher elevations, the weather can change drastically. It's advisable to bring warmer layers that you can easily put on if you need to, especially if you plan to ride the scenic chairlift.
- Traveling in this part of the state is predominantly on twisting, turning two-lane roads which are not for the faint of heart. Allow for additional travel time and if you are prone to car sickness, you may want to take the proper precautions.
- If you plan on making Elkins your home base, be sure to confirm your reservations ahead of time and be sure to let them know if you'll be arriving late. My mom and I arrived at our first hotel only to find that they had given our room away to someone else because we arrived after 6pm. Luckily, the Hampton Inn had an available room. Although Elkins offers many amenities, there are not many hotels to choose from.
Be sure to check out my Part 1 from last week.
As always, thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend!
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