March 9, 2020 by Ed Fischer

1. Seneca Rocks is a popular destination for both hikers and climbers. Seneca Rocks is at the north end of the River Knobs, which contain several other similar "razorback" ridges or "fins" such as Judy Rocks and Nelson Rocks, all on the western flank of North Fork Mountain. Seneca Rocks is a prominent and visually striking formation rising nearly 900 feet above the confluence of Seneca Creek with the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River. It overlooks the community of Seneca Rocks, formerly known as "Mouth of Seneca". The Rocks consist of a North and a South Peak, with a central notch between. Formerly, a prominent pinnacle — "the Gendarme" — occupied the notch.
Evidence suggests that the Native Americans of the Archaic Period may have camped frequently at the mouth of nearby Seneca Creek at the foot of the Rocks. The famous Great Indian Warpath, known locally as the "Seneca Trail", followed the Potomac River, allowing the Algonquian, Tuscarora, and Seneca nations to transit the area for purposes of trade and war. Excavation for the building of the present Seneca Rocks Visitor Center uncovered evidence of two villages, the more recent of which thrived about 600 years ago. About a dozen dwellings were found.
2. Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center is home to the premier Via Ferrata in North America. Climb the "Iron Way", take in the stunning scenery, ascend breathtaking heights, and make memories to last a lifetime or until the next time. Their zipline called the North Fork Valley Canopy Tour was the first of its kind in this part of West Virginia and is still the longest, most scenic in the region. It begins with a short practice zip line so that first timers can get the jitters out while they learn the simple techniques that will keep them safely zipping through the trees. After successful completion of the practice zip, as they's all downhill from here (and thankfully so!)! With 12 zip lines as long as 680 feet in length, and 80 feet in the air, 3 sky bridges and a 40 foot rappel, the Canopy Tour is sure to quench your thirst for fun and adventure while also allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the North Fork Valley from your perch high in the trees! Minimum weight requirement is 70 lbs. and maximum are 250 lbs.
3. Spruce Knob, at 4,863 feet (1,482 m), is the highest point in the state of West Virginia and the summit of Spruce Mountain, the highest peak in the Allegheny Mountains. The summit of Spruce Knob has a definite alpine feel, much more so than most other mountains of the southern Appalachians. The upper few hundred feet are covered in a dense spruce forest, a relic boreal forest environment like those found in northern New England and Canada. The summit is accessible both via trails and a paved Forest Service road and is crowned with a stone lookout tower amid a mixture of boulder fields, meadows and trees. A handicap-accessible nature trail, half a mile (0.8 km) long circles the topmost part of the mountain. High west winds near the summit have gnarled the spruce there with limbs only on their leeward (eastward) side. As is typical in the southern Appalachians, the highest point on a ridge is frequently referred to as a knob or dome. Spruce Knob is the highest point along a ridge known as the Allegheny Front. Dropping steeply to the east, it offers views of the Germany Valley and North Fork Mountain, to the west is the Allegheny Plateau. It also is the highest point in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
4. Smoke Hole Canyon traditionally called The Smoke Holes and later simply Smoke Hole — is a rugged 20 miles long gorge carved by the South Branch Potomac River. The area is rather isolated and remote with parts accessible only by boat or on foot. Defined to the east by Cave Mountain and to the west by North Fork Mountain, Smoke Hole has been part of the Monongahela National Forest's Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks Recreational area since 1965, although some of it is still private land. Formerly, the area was home to a scattered community of family homesteads, storied for their isolation, traditional lifestyles, and skilled production of the illicit liquor known as "moonshine". Today, The Nature Conservancy considers Smoke Hole and the surrounding mountains to be "one of the most biologically rich places in the East", especially as regards its rare plant communities. It included the Canyon as part of the greater Smoke Hole-North Mountain Bioreserve during its "Last Great Places" campaign.

5. The history of Seneca Caverns started over 460 million years ago. That's when the limestone bed where the Caverns formed was laid under an inland sea. Limestone is formed from the remains of shells from clams, coral and other shellfish, which settle on the bottom of the sea over time.

The first verifiable history of human contact with the cave was in the early 1400's when the Seneca Indians used the cave. The Caverns are located on a great Indian trading route through the Appalachian Mountains. Many tribes used this trading route, but it was the Seneca Indians who lived here and used the cave for shelter, storage and special ceremonies. Three hundred years later the first German settlers came to the area. As history goes, a man named Laven Teter, rediscovered the cave in 1742 on a quest for water to supply his livestock. At this time the area was not even considered part of the original 13 colonies. The Teter family owned the caverns until 1928. The new owners opened it to the public in 1930 as a show cave.