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One of the best experiences I’ve had camping solo. The camp site was on a small gravel road, tucked up in the forest, only 1 or 2 other campers, but the grounds man who delivered my firewood checked on my 1-2 times a day. Also warned me when a storm was imminent. Seneca Rock and many hiking trails close by. Incredible drive through steep, winding mountain roads!
A friend and I stayed here 3 nights while visiting Marlinton for the annual Roadkill Cook-off. Facilities are decent however Wi-Fi is extremely weak if you are more than a couple hundred feet from the restrooms. Because this entire area of WV is in the National Radio Quiet Zone, there is zero cellular service with 1-2 hours drive in any direction. If you can't get the weak WiFi service, you won't be using any data services. (Not necessarily a bad thing, but don't expect to notify family that you have arrived or are ok. Also, make sure any electronic devices you will be using for navigation have offline maps loaded before visiting.) One huge gripe is that technically you are limited to 1 sleeping unit per site, even if you only have 2 or 3 people sleeping in individual 1-person tents or a hammock. This either is not listed in the reservations information or is buried in the small print. The person checking us in told us about this, but allowed the 2 of us to camp in the same site. Being strictly a motorcycle camping person, neither I nor any traveling companions would be packing s large tent that could house all of us. The same thing could be said of 2 or 3 backpackers traveling together. For the nearly $30/night charge, this would become FAR too expensive and I'm not likely to stay here again simply because of the fear that the campground's silly rule might be enforced the next time.
Spruce Knob is West Virginia's highest peak and on a clear day offers breathtaking 360 degree views from the Observation Tower. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mnf/recarea/?recid=7053
Because of the thick conifer growth, long mountain views don't occur till nearly to the top and that only along the western roadway…but once you climb the observation tower…(as mentioned, on a clear day) you are rewarded with wonderful views of WV and VA mountains. Watching storm clouds or simple clouds roll in and envelope the Knob offers a wonderful experience.
I've taken the opportunity to camp on Spruce Knob on several occasions, once to the NE of the parking lot just into the pines, once a couple hundred yards down the Seneca Backcountry trail to the right and once directly south of the Tower in the pines. Each offered a differ experience. There is no cost, which is a huge plus!
In the pines, just below the summit, it is eerily quiet and muffled. I've never seen another camper when I've stayed, so the solitude is glorious.
If you want shelter and a picnic table for cooking/eating…they are available, but only along the parking lot. Pit latrines are nearly on the summit in the parking lot near the trailhead for the Observation Tower. So practice leave no trace when camping and hiking!! No water, so bring enough with you. There are waste receptacles but be wise and take trash with you.
There are two levels to the concrete Observation Tower…and best views are from the upper level. I've often though about cowboy camping on the second level after the last sightseer has left for the night, but haven't seen, heard or read if its forbidden or permitted…so I haven't…yet.
Obviously, on a clear night, star gazing is incredible as there no ambient light. It is much cooler at this elevation, even in the summer…and the winds on the summit cut through like a knife.
Note: utilize good camping practices and set camp on a previous location where there is an established fire ring. Again, use caution with campfires because of the wind.
If you desire a more established campground, Spruce Knob Lake Campground is not too far away…down the mountain.
Spruce Knob summit camping is a family highlight!
The Spruce Knob Lake Campground offers extra-large camp sites with lots of shade and so much undergrowth I only saw my neighbors when I took a walk to check out the campground. There are 45 campsites, with pit toilets and a solar-powered pump house for drinking water. No electric or sewer hook-ups, but you’ll find free apples growing at some of the sites. Sites#31 through 41 are walk-in sites for extra privacy if you’re tent camping.
This is bear country, so don’t leave any food sitting out. Dogs are allowed as long as they’re kept on a leash.
Spruce Knob Lake is less than a mile away and a great spot to kayak, fish, and star gaze because you won't have any city lights to interfere and trees won’t block your view. There’s a boat dock and wheelchair accessible fishing pier with the lake stocked with trout several times a year. Electric motors only; No swimming allowed.
There are at least 60-miles of trails in the surrounding Monongahela National Forest, including the very pleasant, 1-mile, Big Bend River Trail accessible from the campground.
If you’re up for a hardy hike, you can walk 8-miles east to Spruce Knob, the highest place in the State of West Virginia at 4,863-feet. There’s a cool lookout tower at Spruce Knob where you can get a good view of the rugged mountain ridges where the red spruce get so hammered by the wind and rough weather, one side of the tree is missing. The plant life is pretty unique too, with reindeer moss visible along the Whispering Spruce Trail.
The drive to the Spruce Knob Lake Campground is on a combination of narrow, winding, mostly unpaved roads. Go slow because there are plenty of blind curves. My A/C was out on the day I arrived, so I ate a fair amount of dust with my window partially open… Lol….
Directions from the Recreation.gov website:
From Riverton, WV, take U.S. Route 33 south 2 miles to Briery Gap Road(County Road 33/4). Turn right onto Briery Gap Road. Go 2 miles to Forest Road 112, turn right and continue for 13.5 miles. Turn right on Forest Road 1. The campground is 1/2 mile on the right. From Elkins, WV, take U.S. Route 33 to State Route 29, which is 1 mile west of Harman. Turn right onto SR 29, go south 18.6 miles and tum left onto Forest Road 1. Follow FR 1 for 2.5 miles.
Note: Seneca Rocks is less than an hour away and well-worth a visit!
If you're a fan of hiking and rock climbing at Seneca Rocks, Seneca Shadows is absolutely the best campground near this fantastic rock formation.
It’s located in the Monongahela National Forest near the North Fork South Branch of the Potomac River with nearby peaks ranging from 1,000 feet to nearly 5,000 feet above sea level. Seneca Shadows campground offers a view of the famed Seneca Rocks and puts you within walking distance of the visitor’s center, hiking and climbing trails, plus the quaint town of Seneca Rocks where you buy gas, food and gifts.
Make sure you visit Harper’s Old Country Store, a 4th generation family run business, operating since 1902. The visitor’s center has a nice collection of Native American artifacts and a cool video of the Army soldiers who trained here before WWII.
Seneca Shadows Campground is a modern campground with paved parking, flush toilets, showers and an amphitheater. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and lantern post. Seneca Shadows is part of a growing trend where a private concessionaire is a running a public camp-ground. I’m not a huge fan since it often mean higher fees, but I must say that the campground was spotless and well-run by a delightful couple who obviously enjoyed their summer job.
Seneca Shadows Campground has three loops to chose from:
The A& B Loops are for tents or RVs with no electric service.
The C-Loop has electricity.
There's also a group camping area and a "tent-only" camping area with walk-in sites from a nearby parking lot.
Spruce Knob and Dolly Sods are nearby and both deserve a spot on your outdoor adventure“bucket list” in West Virginia.
Friendly staff got us in on a very busy weekend! We had a great site on the river. Spaces were small but big enough for all our equipment. They had an awesome pool that was heated, hot tubs, mini golf and good playgrounds. My kids were in heaven. Would recommend to others and stay again if we were in the area.
Nice, first come, first served campground. Toilets were very clean, but just covered a hope in the ground. Beautiful morning, but seems to stay chillier than the surrounding area. It's in a valley and two sites back up to the lake. There is access to the lake for canoes/kayaks.