Morgantown, WV: Spruce Knob via Spring Ridge Trail

Climb to West Virginia's highest peak (and pass Seneca Falls) on this 11.5-mile point-to-point located in Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area.
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Climb to West Virginia's highest peak (and pass Seneca Falls) on this 11.5-mile point-to-point located in Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area.

There are shorter routes to West Virginia’s highest peak, but this 11.5-mile point-to-point is the ultimate scenic route. Located within Monongahela National Forest, the route crests the ridge of Allegheny Mountain, dips into Seneca Creek, and shoots 1,400 feet to the summit. Plus: Pass Seneca Rocks, one of the East’s premier trad-climbing areas on the drive. Feeling ambitious? Hike this in a long day. Or extend it to an overnighter; there are well established campsites along Seneca Creek in addition to Judy Springs Campground.

From Spring Ridge trailhead, head east, climbing three miles to the Allegheny Mountain Trail. Take it east along a ridge .2 mile to the Horton Trail, leading one mile to Seneca Creek Trail. Take it 1.4 miles to the backcountry campsites at the Judy Springs Campground. Next day, continue .5 mile to the Horton Trail. Take it 500 feet south to link the Lumberjack and Huckleberry Trails to the ridge of Spruce Mountain, hitting the summit in 4.5 miles.

Note: For an alternate route, start on the Horton Trail, which is located approximately one mile past the Spring Ridge trailhead on CR 29. This route avoids the tricky turn and ultimately joins the original route at the intersection of Allegheny Mountain and Horton Trails. The Horton Trail also appears to be more specifically suited to hikers, whereas Spring Ridge is a wide grass lane that is popular with horseback riders.

GUIDEBOOK: Hiking West Virginia, by Steven Carroll and Mark Miller ($16, falcon.com)

CONTACT: (304) 257-4488, fs.usda.gov

-Mapped by Wesley Stien

TO TRAILHEAD: Shuttle car: From D.C., take I-66 west 75 miles to I-81 and head south four miles to VA 55. Go 89 miles to a right on CR 33 south of Seneca Rocks. In 2.5 miles, turn right on FR 112 and drive 7.5 miles to FR 104, which leads to parking atop Spruce Mountain.

Trailhead: Take FR 104 to FR 112. Turn right and go six miles to FR 1. Take it 11.5 miles (becomes CR 29) to Spring Ridge trailhead.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 18.4

Waypoints

SPR001

Location: 38.789282, -79.554105

From Spring Ridge trailhead, head east and climb to the crest of Spring Ridge. Be prepared to ascend more than 1,250 feet. Ahead, pass an interesting rock outcropping and several meadows.

SPR002

Location: 38.784599, -79.530888

Hike through a meadow.

SPR003

Location: 38.779832, -79.514408

Turn left onto Allegheny Mountain Trail. Note: There is no sign marking this junction. Turn 270 degrees and descend through an overgrown meadow, staying to the left to reconnect with the trail. From here, the trail drops to Seneca Creek, a renowned wild trout stream.

SPR004

Location: 38.780568, -79.511919

Turn right on Horton Trail.

SPR005

Location: 38.769945, -79.508507

Cross creek to stay on Horton Trail. You will cross the creek no fewer than four times in the next 1.5 miles. Caution: High water could make these crossings difficult to impossible and extremely dangerous. Check water levels before you go, especially in the spring.

SPR006

Location: 38.768238, -79.508357

Pass Upper Seneca Falls, which drops 30 feet into a small pool.

SPR007

Location: 38.767519, -79.508207

Turn right on Seneca Creek Trail, and cross creek.

SPR008

Location: 38.751824, -79.518421

Allegheny Mountain Trail joins Seneca Creek.

SPR009

Location: 38.75067, -79.517198

Turn left onto Judy Springs Trail after the crossing wooden bridge.

SPR010

Location: 38.750857, -79.517353

Judy Springs Campsite

SPR011

Location: 38.754318, -79.508121

Turn right on Huckleberry Trail.

SPR012

Location: 38.750818, -79.507492

Cross Lumberjack Trail and continue on Huckleberry.

SPR013

Location: 38.701738, -79.531081

Spruce Knob (4,863 ft.): Take in views from West Virginia's highest peak. Pick up shuttle car in lot and drive back to the trailhead.

View from Spruce Mountain

Location: 38.724325, -79.5193

Spring Ridge Trailhead

Location: 38.789299, -79.553869

Rock Outcropping on Spring Ridge

Location: 38.791707, -79.54623

Meadows along Spring Ridge

Location: 38.784632, -79.530416

Spring Ridge and Allegheny Junction

Location: 38.779915, -79.514129

Looking back toward Spring Ridge Trail.

Confusing Intersection

Location: 38.780016, -79.513872

This is looking up Allegheny Mountain Trail in the wrong direction. The little girl is looking in the right direction.

Mountain Laurel

Location: 38.775482, -79.511189

It was a surprise to find mountain laurel still in bloom in mid-July.

Seneca Falls

Location: 38.768255, -79.5081

Crossing Seneca Creek

Location: 38.767536, -79.507971

Potentially dangerous river crossing.

Horses at Judy Spring Campground

Location: 38.750891, -79.517273

Climbing Judy Spring Trail

Location: 38.751121, -79.514837

Judy Spring Trail Vista

Location: 38.753481, -79.510117

Huckleberry Turn

Location: 38.742904, -79.499774

Huckleberry Turn

Location: 38.743842, -79.502735

Ridge View

Location: 38.734636, -79.513078

Ridge Flora

Location: 38.709056, -79.527454

Huckleberry Trailhead on Spruce Knob

Location: 38.702425, -79.531124

Tired Dogs

Location: 38.701856, -79.531317

Spruce Knob Observation Tower

Location: 38.700198, -79.532433