West Virginia Outdoor Recreation & Wilderness Areas and State Parks
Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area
Harman's is located within our first National Recreation Area. It consists of 100,000 acres and contains the highest peak in West Virginia, some of the best rock climbing on the east coast, outstanding views and a chance to enjoy America's great outdoors.
Congress established the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area in 1965. This area is unique because it was the first National Recreation Area to be designated in the USDA Forest Service.
Purchased by the federal government in 1969, Seneca Rocks is one of the best-known landmarks in West Virginia. These rocks have long been noted as a scenic attraction and are popular with rock climbers.
The rocks are a magnificent formation rising nearly 900 feet above the North Fork River. Eastern West Virginia contains many such formations of the white/gray Tuscarora quartzite. Seneca Rocks and nearby Champe Rocks are among the most imposing examples. The quartzite is approximately 250 feet thick and is located primarily on exposed ridges as caprock or exposed crags. The rock is composed of fine grains of sand that were laid down approximately 440 million years ago, in an extensive sheet at the edge of ancient ocean. Years of geologic activity followed, as the ocean was slowly destroyed and the underlying rock uplifted and folded. Millions of years of erosion stripped away the overlaying rock and left remnants of the arching folds in formations such as Seneca Rocks.
Smoke Hole Recreation Area
About 185 million years ago, a seven-mile thick sheet of sedimentary rocks began to buckle and fold. Wind and water wore away the softer layers, wearing down the mountains, and creating a region of rolling plains. Then the plains themselves were violently uplifted and broken. The rivers that had previously rolled gently over the plains turned into raging torrents that cut deep gorges and canyons. One such gorge is the Smoke Hole, where the South Branch of the Potomac River squeezes between North Mountain and Cave Mountain. For over 20 miles the river has carved a half-mile deep canyon, with nearly vertical walls.
The misty fog that often lies along the river as it runs through the "hole" makes the name appropriate, but where the name really came from is uncertain. Some old timers call the canyon "Smoke Holes" and claim Native Americans used the caves for smoking meat. Others say it was the moonshiner's stills that gave the gorge its name.
Regardless, the canyon is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful areas in West Virginia, and is just a short drive from Harman's West Virginia cabin rentals. The remote, rugged landscape provides a unique recreation experience, whether you are fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing or camping. The roads into the area are narrow and winding, so take your time and enjoy the scenery.
At 4,863 feet above sea level, Spruce Knob is West Virginia's highest peak. From this rugged alpine peak, you can view grassy openings and pastures or look down on forested ridges as far as the eye can see. It is located less than an hour from Harman's log cabin lodging in West Virginia.
The vegetation here has adapted to a harsh environment. One-sided red spruce deformed by constant exposure to strong westerly winds clings to the high rocky ridges. Blueberry and huckleberry plants hug the ground. Mountain ash dots the landscape and brightens autumn days with brilliant foliage. From May through July, the flowers of azaleas, mountain laurel and rhododendron appear. Hardwood forest of beech, birch, maple and cherry cover the lower elevations.
Dolly Sods Wilderness Area
A federally designated wilderness area, the Dolly Sods Wilderness was created in 1970 to protect the unique scenic qualities of the area north of Forest Road 19. Today approximately 2,000 acres along Forest Road 75 is managed by the US Forest Service as a scenic area, and is literally next to Harman's West Virginia cabin rentals.
The Dolly Sods Scenic Area is the most accessible and most visited part of the Sods. Berry picking, hunting and sightseeing are popular pastimes here. Forest Road 75 crosses the Scenic Area from south to north.
Towards the south end of the Scenic Area, the landscape is more forested with occasional openings or vistas. The Overlook gives visitors sweeping views of the North Fork Valley 3,000 feet below. , is a highly elevated plain of windswept moors on the Allegheny Plateau. It is known for its upland bogs and sweeping vista. Dolly Sods is the home to the one-sided Spruce trees and vegetation only found in Canada.
A scenic overlook and the Northland Loop interpretive trail permit access to the scenic area without wilderness skills. Also, hiking at Bear Rocks is easy. At Bear Rocks you can stand on a limestone outcrop overlooking New Creek Mountain, the North Fork Mountain Range and the vast North Fork River Valley.
Black Water Falls
Blackwater Falls State Park with 1688 acres is named after the amber-colored waters that plunge five stories at Blackwater Falls, then twist and tumble through an eight-mile-long gorge. The black water is a result of leached tannic acids from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles.
Blackwater Falls State Park
Is a great place to spend a day, and is just an hour from Harman's. Hiking trails and observation points are easy to access in Black Water Falls State Park. The Gentle Trail provides stairways and boardwalks that lead to the base of the falls for a close-up view.
Web Site: http://www.blackwaterfalls.com/
Canaan Valley State Park
Providing year-round activities Canaan Valley is the highest valley east of the Mississippi. It is home to state parks, ski slopes, and the nation's 500th wildlife refuge at the top of a mountain chain that feeds three major waterways that converge in Parson, Tucker County. Families gravitate to Canaan Valley State Park and its full schedule of warm-weather activities. Swimming, tennis, interpretive nature walks, evening events fill leisure-time hours. Golfers head for the 18-hole championship golf course.
In the winter Canaan Valley Resort and Timberline Four Season Resort open their slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. In spring, summer and fall, mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking take precedence.
Web Site: http://www.canaanvalley.org/