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.