WV’s #SenecaRocks Offers Amazing Hikes, Climbs, Views, Experiences

The Surrounding Areas Are Full of Amazing Surprises and Destinations

Seneca Rocks is a magnificent formation rising nearly 900 feet above the North Fork River in Pendelton County, West Virginia. Photos by John Clise

By John Clise

Seneca Rocks, rising nearly 900 feet, are one of the best-known and most beautiful landmarks in West Virginia.  They are a destination for travelers and rock climbers from around the world.

I’m by no means a rock climber but I do enjoy taking hikes up to the observation deck to take in the beauty it offers. I also like climbing up to the top, though I make no attempt to go out onto the rocks. I leave that to the braver of heart, and more agile and skilled.

As far as historical accounts go, no one knows who the person to scale the rocks, but it was likely a Native American as the Algonquian, Tuscarora, and Seneca nations were known to pass through the area. The documented climbing history of the Rocks begins in 1935 with a roped descent – the ascent was a steep hike – of the North Peak by Paul Bradt and Florence Perry. In the 1930s and 1940s only a few climbers, mostly from the Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh areas, attempted to climb Seneca Rocks.

Photo by John Clise

Wikipedia tells us in 1943 and ’44, as part of the West Virginia Maneuver Area10th Mountain Division[6] of the U.S. Army used Seneca, Nelson and Champe Rocks to train mountain troops in assault climbing in preparation for action in the Apennines of Italy.[7] They left behind an estimated 75 thousands soft iron pitons, some of which can still be found on the rocks,[6] and which inspired one of the faces to be named “The Face of a Thousand Pitons”. Many of those pitons were retrieved and reused by local climber in the following years,[8] but many remained in the rock for decades.

In technical terms, if I could sound so smart repeating what was told to me, Seneca Rocks is a fin of vertically layered Tuscarora quartzite. The rock is the same type as is found in the Shawangunks, but unlike the horizontally layered Gunks, the climbs often follow steep cracks.

I’d say now is the time to getting ready for your trip this spring to this West Virginia paradise.

Yokum’s Store along with Yokum’s Vacationland and Yokum’s Stables are just a stone’s throw from Seneca Rocks. As a matter of fact, the Rocks are visible from the parking lot of the store which also includes a restaurant. The Stables are closed until spring. If you check out Yocum’s on Facebook, you’ll see why.

According to their website, Yokum’s General Store supplies Seneca Rocks’ visitors and residents with all the souvenirs, camping supplies, and grocery items they could possibly need. From coonskin hats to ramen noodles, Yokum’s tries to supply people with all their basic needs on a trip to the mountains. You can get your firewood, ice, and other necessities here. We also have a restaurant located at the back of the store called Yokum’s Grill. It’s a great place to get a burger, and we even do our own pork BBQ, which can’t be beat! And best of all, you can get hand-dipped Hershey’s ice cream, available from Spring through fall.

There are a number of camping, hotel, overnight options available at Yokum’s for folks wishing to spend a few days or longer exploring Seneca Rocks and the surrounding areas.

There are a number of other attractions in the area that are definitely worth checking out. Click here for more.

For more information on climbing, click here.

Other area attractions:

This historic marker is located about a dozen miles from Seneca Rocks located on Rt. 33. Photo by John Clise

According to historical accounts, Tories were colonists who helped and even fought with the British during the American Revolutionary War. Also known as Loyalists for their loyalty to the British crown, their contention with the Whigs (Patriots) was so intense that their savage fighting can justly be called America’s first civil war.

Cass Scenic Railroad– Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park offers excursions that transport you back in time to relive an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. About 1 hour away.  website

Seneca Caverns- West Virginia’s largest. Located in exquisite Germany Valley. Only 15 minutes away. Open 1 April to 30 November. website

Smoke Hole Caverns- Located about 15 minutes from here and a tourist must. Open year round. website

Dolly Sods– Dolly Sods is the highest plateau of its type east of the Mississippi River with altitude ranging from around 4,000 feet at the top of a mountain ridge on the Allegheny Front to about 2,700 feet at the outlet of Red Creek. 30 minutes away. website

Spruce Knob/Spruce Knob Lake– Spruce Knob is the highest peak at 4,860 feet, in West Virginia. It is in the Monongahela National Forest and only a 30 minute drive to the top.  website

Blackwater Falls– Blackwater Falls State Park is named for the falls of the Blackwater River whose amber-colored waters plunge five stories then twist and tumble through an eight-mile long gorge. The falls are one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia. About a 45 minute drive.  website

Purple Fiddle– Features live music, often bluegrass, most nights of the week. Easily combined with a trip to Blackwater Falls or the Dolly Sods. About a 45 minute drive from Yokum’s. website

Canaan Valley– Mountain biking and hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter, Canaan Valley is just a 30 minute drive. Downhill ski at Timberline (website) and Canaan Valley Resort (also has mountain biking in the summer) (website), For Cross Country Skiing, visit Whitegrass (website)

Green Bank Telescope (GBT)– Is the world’s largest steerable radio telescope at 100 meters in diameter. It’s about 1 hour’s drive from Yokum’s. website

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