Spruce Knob and Spruce Knob Observation Tower
Dave V.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Oct. 31, 2019

Peak Bagging Coolness!

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!

  • Parking lot signage at the top of Spruce Knob
  • Low lying clouds add a surreal touch
  • Long mountain views from atop the Observation Tower...looking West
  • Western exposure from the rim trail.
  • Windy? Um...yes. When conifers only have branches growing on one side, you know its windy.
  • Morning glow in the East over the Shenandoah's.
  • You have several options of where to camp at the summit...they are all good
  • Sheltered in the pines just off the northeastern ridge, makes for great campfires...and an eerie nighttime quietness.
  • The campsite is further down the Seneca Creek Backcountry Trail a couple hundred yards and to the right.
  • Top of the Observation Tower registered over 4900 ft. Pretty good for the Eastern States.
  • Lots of twigs and branches to keep a fire raging.
  • West Virginia has some of the most colorful flora and fauna. Out of the 46 states I've visited...it tops the list for surprises and diverse beauty.
  • Does it rain in Wet Virginia? You betcha! Always tarping.
  • A great campsite just off the summit down the Seneca Creek Backcountry Trail and to the right.
  • The summit campsite areas have been widely used and often have wonderful creature comforts like the stone seats in the background beyond the fire pit.
  • Fungi, ferns and pillow soft moss.
  • Summit views
  • A Northwestern view.
  • Ethereal cloud mist keeps things damp and quiet.
  • Seneca Creek Backcountry Trail going down off the Spruce Knob Summit.
  • Summit parking lot trailhead signage.
  • Best to keep a copy of the trail maps.
  • Summit views
Month of VisitSeptember