Tidbits: Highest mountain in West Virginia
Summitted, July 11, 2008
Time Zone: GMT -5 hours
When to go:
Anytime, although the access road may not be passable (or might be closed) during winter snow or ice conditions.
It is basically a drive-up to the summit. There is a short loop-trail (perhaps 1/2 mile), or a direct trail (1/4 mile) which leads from the parking area to the summit.
I approached from Washington, so the nearest town was Riverton. County Road "4" traverses the town. Proceed south for about 2 miles and make a left onto County Road "6". After a mile or so, veer to the left onto Forest Road 112 and follow it for about 8 miles until you come to the one (and only) road on the right (Forest Road 104). Make a right onto 104 and the summit parking area is another 2 miles down the road (there will be signs for Spruce Knob all along the way). The last 8 - 10 miles is gravel, but the road is very well maintained and 2-wheel drive vehicles will have no problem.
I started my trip from the Washington area. The drive down to West Virginia was very scenic, but took quite a bit longer than I expected due to low speed limits and one-lane roads for the last hour or so (about 3 1/2 hours one-way). As mentioned, the final road in the National Recreation Area is gravel and,. although it is a nice forest road, there were not many views or any sites of interest. Upon reaching the summit parking area I noted quite a few people using this as their launch point for overnight hikes in the National Recreation Area. There are two trails you can take to the summit. The most direct route is in the middle of the parking area, to the right of the bathroom facilities. It is a 1/4 mile straight-shot to the summit.
The summit itself has an observation tower, which you can climb up for photos. There are (in my opinion) better views if you continue walking down the trail past the tower to the cliff ledge. You will intersect a loop trail that goes along the cliff edge. If you make a LEFT onto this trail, you will come out at the side of the parking lot where you started (about 10 minutes of walking) and you will see quite a few nice vistas (and a few picnic tables) along the way.
One special note to high-pointers...there are THREE markers at the summit. The first in along the path right before the tower. The second is at the base of the tower near the corner closest to the path (both of these are USGS markers). The third is a metal pin near the stairs of the tower. The actual high point is the USGS marker located at the base of the tower near the path...so for those of you "following the rules" and wanting to stand at the highest non-manmade point, this is the marker you need to look for (you should note that this is the marker that displays the altitude, the other does not).