Hiking: Seneca Rocks and Dolly Sods, WV
West Virginia 2010
Welcome to wild and wonderful West Virginia! http://www.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx Following Rt. 33, you are likely to uncover hidden treasures, as we did! The mountains and “hollers” create a balance of beauty. The people create fun. One of the first sights to capture our attention was a display of metal sculptures that is definitely avant garde. A cowboy on horseback was just one of the creations. German Valley is simply beautiful from the overlook. Little farms, cows and goats in pasture, forests, an ancient buildings falling n on themselves kept our interest.
There are two crown jewels in this area: Seneca Rocks and Dolly Sods. Seneca Rocks is unusual and breathtaking formation. Hikers and rock climbers love it! There are several ways to reach the summit, depending on skill levels. A Visitor Center recalls Native American and pioneer inhabitants. A video and observation room add to the experience. Sites Homestead, in the park, re-creates a typical mid 1800s homestead. Herb and kitchen gardens, a well, smokehouse, and fire ring were necessary at the time. A nature trail from the visitor Center goes to the homestead. Allow at least 45 minutes for the Visitor center and homestead. http://www.stateparks.com/spruce_knobseneca_rocks.html
Dolly Sods Wilderness area, is a true wilderness. There are no motels, restaurants, stores, or even electricity. There are many hiking trails and spectacular views! A small primitive campground for the adventurous camper has a pump and two chemical toilets. We hiked several trails and saw unbelievable scenery! A few ripe blueberries were perfect for snacking. Since it is in the mountains, 3,000 feet above sea level and more, it is much cooler than in the valleys. We plan on returning tomorrow. For a unique experience, visit Dolly Sods. There are only two ways to reach the area. Dolly Sods is a special place! Allow at least half a day.
Home for the next two nights is Yokum’s, a feature in this area for years. Shirley Yokum, still spry and charming at 90, runs the resort, which started as a country store owned by her father in 1902. There are two motels, store, deli, restaurant, indoor pool, and horseback rides. Our room, with kitchenette, faces Seneca Rocks. As I write this, I’m on the porch swing, looking at the rocks. We had supper at the restaurant, about ½ mile from our room. Greg had steak, which he said was good, and I had a tasty brook trout, a rare treat for a Floridian. The price was a very reasonable $24.50! Other meals included spaghetti and chops. There is no liquor served. http://www.yokum.com/
Once upon a time, a beautiful Indian princess told her many suitors that the one she would marry would be the one who followed her to the top of the rocks. Seneca Rocks was the place she accepted the one who became her husband. Named for the Native Americans who once roamed this area, Seneca Rocks attracts climbers, hikers, and wildlife viewers. We started our day with the 3 mile round trip hike to the top and back. The trail is steep and rocky. Switchbacks and stairs make it a little easier, but it is strenuous. The unbelievable view from the top is worth the trip! Wow! We saw for miles and miles, both field and forest, and felt like we were on top of the world. We even waved to anybody who might be looking through the viewer way down at the Welcome Center! Along the way, there are fascinating rock formations, wildflowers, the canopy, fantastic views, and if lucky, wildlife. For us, that meant only millipedes, but lots of them. We looked in vain for a deer, a snake, or even a squirrel! Allow a minimum of 2 1/2 hours for the hike, and bring water to drink.
Lunch was at Yokum’s deli; simple chicken sandwich and burger were tasty. The price of $ was a bargain! The deli serves sandwiches, pizza, and ice cream for lunch.
We enjoy Dolly Sods so much, we returned! Scrambling over Bear Rocks was so much fun! The views are awesome! It was a good workout, too. Along the way, we picked ripe berries and snacked again. The 1/3 mile nature trail took us to a very attractive bog, and we spotted cranberries. There are vivid colors! This park is considered sub-Alpine, so many of the plants here aren’t found elsewhere in the U.S. Two other hikes took us to shady pine woods, huge rock formations, fern patches, and more. The hikes are usually ascending and descending. We have the sore muscles to prove we did it! There is nowhere else like Dolly Sods!
At the end of the day, we tried supper at Harper’s Country Store, right across the street. It also was built in 1902, and has added the Front Porch Restaurant upstairs. Greg chose the pizza, which had a very tasty bread base, lots of cheese, and fresh mushrooms. MaryJo had the lamb wrap, unusual for these parts, but delicious! We wanted dessert, and the warm apple dumpling was scrumptious! Just the right size for two! Total for the meal was $32. Downstairs is a store that sells groceries, hunting and fishing equipment, souvenirs, books, candy, and more from the old store counter! http://www.pendletoncounty.net/AKpages/page-harpstore.htm