Monday, September 27, 2010

A Side Trip To The West Virginia Mountains

When I was a kid, my parents often talked about going to Morefield and Petersburg to go fishing and my cousin has often mentioned the camp he had in the area – they went there several times a year for many years. Since I couldn’t remember ever going there, during our recent visit to WV, we decided on a day trip to the area to give us something to do - the area is in the smaller mountains just East of Allegheny Front.  The primary fishing streams are the North Fork (of the south branch) and South Branch of the Potomic River (the one that flows past Washington, DC) and other tourist spots include Smoke Hole Caverns, Seneca Rocks, Seneca Caverns, and Dolly Sods, which is actually along the crest of Allegheny Front. Allegheny front is the tallest ridge of the mountains running through the eastern side of the state – they are called the Cumberland Mountains when they run through Tennessee.

After leaving my aunt’s camp on the river, the first point of interest was the covered bridge in Phillippi, WV, which is still in service and we crossed.

Next was an accidentally discovered train yard in Bellington, which I’ll include with a separate later post about trains.

From there, we headed east through Elkins, worked our way through the mountains, and ended up at Seneca Rocks, which lies along the North Fork. Here's some shots of the trees beginning to turn.

And this a Seneca Rocks which rise about 900' above the stream and are popular with rock climbers.

Since it was lunch time, we stopped at the local tourist place called Yokums and enjoyed talking with the 90 year old, still very active owner – like many folks that age, she told us a lot of her life’s story. While in a little decline, I’d say the place has provided a very good living for them over the years, providing a little bit of everything for the tourists.

We headed down river to the place the cousins had kept their camper (a modified school bus) and all were amazed by the low water level - but it's still beautiful country.

Along with several others, they had rented a small spot of ground along the river from a local farmer and made the 2 ½ hour journey every weekend they could – unfortunately a major flood washed it (along with lots of other things, including homes) away a few months after they had sold it. From there we headed cross-mountain toward the South Branch and stumbled upon this very nice lodge with about 6 equally nice individual cabins. Since it was in the middle of nowhere, we couldn’t figure why it was there.

We then arrived in the Smokehole area.

and toured along the South Branch, which is equally low.

and finally came to the full South Branch of the Potomic near Petersburg WV.  The North Branch comes in from Maryland and they meet up about 10 miles south east of Cumberland, Md

It’s hard to believe this is the same river that’s in DC – of course there are some other streams that run into it prior to getting there and I believe it's tidewater at the point it gets really wide.  I just saw some shots on another forum of Great Falls National Park, just notheast of DC and the river is very low there as well.

From there it was up on Dolly Sods which is a very unique place and worth the quick read by clicking on the link. It’s a boggy area right on top the mountain and the wind is so strong and persistent, the pine tree branches grow much longer on the downwind side. I’d been hunting in the area about 40 years ago and, in places, it has grown up tremendously since then. The first two shots are out toward Maryland.

A typical boggy area right on top of the mountain.

And the trees with the long branches pointing East away from the ever present wind.

We then went past a wind farm along a ridge catching that same wind near Thomas, WV. The first shot is from Dolly Sods and the second is up close along route US-219.

We then headed back to the camp for a total trip of 10 hours - my cousin and I loved it, but we had some whinny women by the time we got home. I suggested we leave for home the next day, but Bev said that after all of that riding, she wanted to spend a day sitting on the camp porch, watching the river go by, and getting ready for the ride home - the flexibility of retirement sure is nice.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.



  1. What a lovely way to spend a few days. Your photos are wonderful. have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  2. Beautiful pictures Larry! Looks like you had a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. Hi Larry, Love reading about your W VA trip... We hope to get back up there sometime. I'd love to see the Seneca Rocks area sometime.. AND that covered bridge is to 'die for'....

    We did not eat at Webb's---but saw it.. We always eat a big breakfast, skip lunch and then eat a big dinner when traveling. We ate both breakfast and dinner at the Pine Mountain lodge restaurant... VERY good--and a great view.


  4. This seems like such a quaint place. I love all of the gorgeous foliage!

  5. Those are some pretty pictures!

    Funny, in my house, I'll drive till the cows come home, and my dearly beloved hates the riding around.

  6. Thanks for taking the time to post all of the photos. What a nice trip. I wonder why they covered bridges? I'm glad they did - they're beautiful. ah yes, the flexibility of retirement. One of these days!


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