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Pendleton County contains a plethora of natural features

June 28, 2012
By Joan Ashley - Special to The Inter-Mountain , The Inter-Mountain

Considered one of the most beautiful counties in West Virginia, Pendleton County boasts having the highest elevation in the state, Spruce Knob at 4,861 feet, and the largest underground cave, Seneca Caverns, known as an underground wonderland.

The fifth largest county in the state, Pendleton encloses 695 square miles consisting of three river valleys with overlooking ridges. To the west is the Allegheny chain of mountains which includes Spruce Knob. The valley directly below holds the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River which flows to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Cherry Grove, Circleville, Riverton and Seneca Rocks nestle in that valley.

Traveling east over North Fork Mountain is the South Branch Potomac River in a valley housing Franklin and Upper Tract. Further toward the sunrise is the wide valley of the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River where the towns of Moyers, Sugar Grove, Brandywine and Fort Seybert are located. Further east is Shenandoah Mountain where West Virginia meets Virginia at the peak.

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One of the most recognizable natural features in the state, Seneca Rocks juts from the rolling hills in Pendleton County. A destination for hikers and climbers alike, the region also hosts regular educational events.

Outdoor adventure is paramount in Pendleton County. With two national forests, mountains, valleys, rock formations, three major fishing streams and caverns, Pendleton County is a land of rugged enticing mountains well suited for mountain biking, climbing and hiking and large open valleys perfect for road biking, horseback riding, canoeing, camping and scenic drives during the autumn season.

Pendleton County is home to two national forests. George Washington National Forest covers 48,000 acres of the eastern part of the county. Brandywine Lake Recreation Area features a 10-acre lake great for swimming, fishing, camping and picnicking.

The Monongahela National Forest, extending into the western half of the county, covers nearly 81,000 acres. This is home to Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area where more than 70 miles of hiking and bike trails are maintained for year-round use. Here legendary Seneca Rocks is a challenge to even the best rock climber as it is considered the best vertical climb in the East. Along with 375 major mapped climbing routes, varying in degree from the easiest to the most difficult, there also is a gentle hiking trail to the top.

Spruce Knob and Reddish Knob offer easy hiking trails ending in 360-degree panoramic views.

Mountain biking is one of the major attractions in the area offering the highest elevations at the Seneca Rocks-Spruce Knob area and Smoke Hole areas. Trails also are available through valleys on old logging roads hidden in the forests or over backroads interlaced with friendly communities. Pendleton offers more than 185 miles of trails ranging from pavement to forest road to off-road, single and double track.



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