ARVELLA & JOHN ZIMMERER
P.O. BOX 731
Petersburg, WV 26847
Activities in the Area
For the spelunker, there are several caves in the area. Commercial caverns that offer sightseeing tours through them are Seneca Caverns in Riverton (304-567-2691) and Smoke Hole Caverns in Petersburg (304-257-4442).
Many of the noncommercial caves are on private land, and permission of the landowner should be gained prior to entry. Those owned by the National Forest are generally open to the public, but some of the caves are closed at certain times of the year or gated to protect the endangered wildlife that inhabits them. Eagle’s Nest Outfitters can assist with contacts for some of the noncommercial caves on private land, and for additional information on caves in the area, contact E. Ray Garton, Director of the West Virginia Speleological Survey at 304-366-1810.
Big Springs Cave (closed September 1 to May 15 each year)
Cave Mountain Cave (closed April 1 to September 15 each year)
Two Lick Run Cave (closed September 1 to May 15 each year)
Birding in the Monongahela
Many of you are already aware that the area has abundant wildlife, but the diversity of the birds is particularly interesting. The Monongahela National Forest is over 909,137 acres of diverse habitat and it is used by 230 species of birds. The Monongahela, located in the Appalachian Mountains of east central West Virginia, has elevations of 1,000 to 4,861 feet. The diversity, forest stands of various tree species and age classes and the non-forested areas such as wetlands, cliffs, grassy meadows and cascading streams, all provide places for birds to feed, rest and raise their young. This diverse landscape provides habitat for 70 species of resident birds, 89 breeding neotropical migrants, and 71 non-breeding migratory bird species. The Forest Service encourages you to try birding on the National Forest. Special efforts are taken to protect and provide the necessary habitats for birds. Food producing trees and shrubs are planted for food and cover and during timber harvest/firewood cutting, many cavity trees and snags are saved for nesting, feeding and roosting sites. Through birding, you can become familiar with the Forest Service’s role in protection and management which includes recreation, timber, wildlife, water, wilderness, and range resources.
Seneca Rocks is not only a majestic sight from street level, it has invited many people to have another perspective--from the top. Seneca Rocks Climbing School and The Gendarme Climbing Shop are the original outfitters and guide service at Seneca Rocks, one of the premier climbing areas in the Eastern US. Founded in 1971, both are still run by John Markwell who refers to his businesses as “good ideas that sort of got out of control.” The shop, The Gendarme, is one of the few shops in the nation dedicated to serving climbers. Supplying a complete line of quality hard goods, you’ll find little in the way of fashion or fluff at The Gendarme. The staff here are all knowledgeable climbers who can advise customers about their purchases and answer questions about climbing and the local area. Seneca Rocks Climbing School caters to old and new climbers alike. Offering a progressive series of instructional programs, Seneca Rocks Climbing School can get the beginner off to a good start or help the experienced climber work on specific techniques or just climb some of Seneca’s classic routes with a professional guide.
West Virginia offers miles of rewarding and satisfying opportunities for biking. In fact, West Virginia is one of the highest rated mountain biking destinations in the world. In and around the Monongahela National Forest there is approximately 1000 miles of bikable federal land, 200 miles on state park land, and about 375 miles of rail trails. Mountain bikes are permitted on most national forest roads and trails including many roads gated to exclude motorized vehicles. Detailed information on several areas in the Monongahela which offer good opportunities for mountain biking are available from various ranger districts. Five major trail systems lead you through Canaan Valley, the Blackwater Canyon, the Monongahela National Forest, the Dolly Sods backcountry and more. Eagle’s Nest Outfitters can provide you with details to get more information. Commercially published biking route guides that provide greater details are available through: Blackwater Bikes, Davis WV 304-259-5286; CMI, Franklin, WV 1-304-358-7401; and Elk River Touring Center, Slatyfork, WV 304-572-3771.
Hiking is another activity that is popular in this area, and locally there are about 1,600 miles of hiking trails available for you to explore. There is an approximately 24 mile trail along North Fork Mountain; ideal for a 2 to 3 day backpacking trip full of wildlife and amazing scenery. Elevations on this trail range from 3,000 to 3,795 feet, and the hike can be broken into two 12 mile sections as there is a four wheel drive road that meets the trail midway. In the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks area, there are several hiking trails available. Each offers a little different terrain and scenery, and they vary in length from a half mile to about 6 miles.