Seneca Rocks

02 May 2019

 

On Thursday, we awoke to a beautiful morning and decided to take a drive. 

Beth suggested taking a picnic lunch and hiking up to the top of Seneca Rocks.  Perfect!

It's about 100 miles from Morgantown, and near my grandparents' old farm.

 

Seneca Rocks is perhaps the most recognizable West Virginia natural landmark (tied with Blackwater Falls). 

The 900-foot-high rocks attract sightseers and climbers from all over the world.

In WWII, the US Army trained soldiers on rock climbing here:  http://www.wvculture.org/goldenseal/fall07/seneca.html

 

For more information on Seneca Rocks:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seneca_Rocks 

 

 

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I've been coming to Seneca Rocks since I was a kid. 

This is me in the early 1960s, when the Gendarme was still standing. It fell in 1987.

(Small rock formation sticking up in the "dip" at the middle of the ridge)

 

 

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Close-up of the Gendarme (French for "pinnacle")

We used to joke that it looked like a bear who had a climber pinned on a ledge to the right.

Photo from Wikipedia

 

 

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When Beth and I were first dating, we came out to Seneca Rocks with my Grandparents, Herb and Mernie Alt.

We would picnic and watch the rock climbers.   Lots of memories there!!   (1984)

 

 

 

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Here is a view of Seneca Rocks today.  The old Discovery Center was located off to the left by the pavilion.

The Sites Cabin historic site on the right is being restored. (More photos later)

No Gendarme.  Our destination (the viewing platform) is on the left side at the top where the trees end.

 

The old Discovery Center was destroyed in the 1985 flood, but a new one was built just a 5-minute walk away.

That's where we started our hike.

 

 

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This footbridge marks the beginning of the trail.

We are crossing over the South Branch of the Potomac River.

 

 

 

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The trail up to the top is about a mile long, zig-zagging through the woods and up the

 steep slope to a platform on the left side of the rocks.

 

 

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You can see how steep the hillside is at this point.

By zig-zagging, it makes it a little bit easier to climb.

 

 

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There are a few benches along the way to rest.

 

 

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Near the top, there are steps to help on the really steep parts. 

 

 

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An hour and 10 minutes later, we arrive at the viewing platform. 

 

 

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Just to prove we both made it!  LOL

 

We enjoyed a nice, quiet picnic lunch while watching the buzzards circle below us.

What a view!!

 

 

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Just above the viewing platform is the edge of the top ridge.

This sign warns of the dangers ahead.  Don't worry, Beth - I'll be careful.

 

 

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Close-up of the sign.

 

 

 

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After carefully climbing up the last few rocks, I was rewarded with this view.

The reason these rocks are called "razorback" is that, from the side, they are only about 15-20 feet thick at the top.

Directly to the left is a 500-foot drop, and to the right is a 900-foot drop. 

 

 

 

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Another view that shows how thin the rocks are at the top.

 

 

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A view behind Seneca Rocks.  You can only see this view from the top of the rocks.

Note the big farm on the distant hillside.

 

On the ridge of the mountain in the background is the North Fork Mountain Trail,

part of a difficult 24-mile trail from Germany Valley to Smoke Hole.

Lots of rattlesnakes, no water. And very hot in the summer.

 

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/west-virginia/north-fork-mountain-trail 

 

 

 

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Here is a view to the front of the rocks. 

Just to the left of center, down below, is the Sites Cabin on an earlier photo.

To the left, just above the highest rock,  you can see the parking lot and new Discovery Center.

 

** Beth and I both decided long ago to have this spot be our final resting place.  We asked for our ashes to be spread here. **

Could you ask for a nicer view?!

 

 

 

 

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There are several old spruce trees along the top ridge.

These pine cones make for a nice photo op.

 

 

 

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Oh, the stories this old tree could tell.

To put it in perspective, it's only about 3 or 4 feet tall.

 

 

 

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As I climb down from the ridge to the viewing platform, I catch a glimpse of Beth on the viewing platform.

 

 

It was getting to be time to head back to Morgantown, so we started down the trail.

MUCH easier going down than coming up!!

 

 

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This little toad was hiding by the side of the trail.  It was only about 1 inch long. 

 

 

On the hike back down, we will share photos of some of the flowers along the trail.

There were many we were unfamiliar with, so I'm not going to label them yet.  (Check back)

 

 

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Interesting colors on a dying leaf.

 

 

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Some pretty flowers by a stream at the bottom of the trail.

 

 

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And we're back to the footbridge across the South Branch Potomac River.

From here, we could hear the sound of bullfrogs.  As we crossed the bridge, the sound grew louder.

 

 

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On the shoreline of the river by the bridge, we saw this frog.  Hi there! 

 

 

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Enjoying the sun!

 

 

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Can you spot all 4 frogs?

 

 

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The Sites Homestead is an old cabin you can visit.  More info:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sites_Homestead

Volunteers keep up the gardens and plant vegetables and flowers common to the area.

 

 

 

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View inside the Sites' cabin.

 

 

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Another view inside the Sites' cabin. 

 

 

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Flowers along the fence behind Sites' cabin.

 

 

 

We hope you enjoyed coming along with us on our hike up Seneca Rocks today.

Thanks for joining us!

 

 

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