Spruce Knob Summit
|Elevation||4,863 ft (1,482 m) NAVD 88|
|Prominence||2,781 ft (848 m)|
|Listing||U.S. state high point Ranked 24th|
|Pendleton County, West Virginia, U.S.|
|Topo map||USGS Spruce Knob|
|Easiest route||Drive-up via FR 104|
The summit of Spruce Knob has a definite alpine feel, much more so than most other mountains of the Southern Appalachians. The upper few hundred feet are covered in a dense spruce forest, a relic boreal forest environment similar to those found in northern New England and Canada. The summit is accessible both via trails and a paved Forest Service road, and is crowned with a stone lookout tower amid a mixture of boulder fields, meadows and trees. A handicap-accessible nature trail half a mile (0.8 km) long circles the topmost part of the mountain. High west winds near the summit have gnarled the spruce there like Krummholz, flagged with limbs only on their leeward (eastward) side. Geologically, Spruce Knob is formed of a resistant bed of Pennsylvanian Pottsville Sandstone.
As is typical in the southern Appalachians, the highest point on a ridge is frequently referred to as a knob or dome. Spruce Knob is the highest point along a ridge known as the Allegheny Front. Dropping steeply to the east, it offers views of the Germany Valley and North Fork Mountain; to the west is the Allegheny Plateau. It also is the highest point in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Spruce Knob's climate can be classified as cold continental or highland. Summers are cool and often damp, with thunderstorms common both in spring and summer. Winters are cold and snowy, with an average of over 180 inches (4.6 m) of annual snowfall leaving the summit access road often impassible between October and April. This mountain is known to receive high winds year-round; red spruce deformed by constant exposure to strong westerly winds are scattered across its rocky ridges.
Red spruce (Picea rubens) is the most common tree species on the summit. The lower altitudes are populated by oak, hickory, birch, beech and maple. Bald eagles, hawks and peregrine falcons have been seen on the mountain. Mammals such as Black Bear, White-tailed Deer, weasel, porcupine, skunk and rabbit are also found.
Spruce Knob is within the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, which in turn is part of Monongahela National Forest. Established in 1965, it was the first National Recreation Area designated by the U.S. Forest Service and includes more than 100,000 acres (40,000 ha).
There are over 75 miles (121 km) of hiking trails around the mountain and a small 25-acre (10 ha) lake well stocked with trout on the west side of the mountain. Two campgrounds are also on the mountain.
Paved access is from U.S. Route 33/West Virginia Route 28 about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Riverton. Briery Gap Road (County Route 33/4), Forest Road 112 and Forest Road 104 have been reconstructed and paved to provide a hard-surfaced road to the summit.
Forest Roads 104 and 112 are not maintained in the winter. Impassable conditions can be expected any time from mid-October to mid-April.
- Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area
- List of mountains of West Virginia
- List of U.S. states by elevation
- "Spruce". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
- "Spruce Knob, West Virginia". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
- "Map and List of U.S. State Highpoints". IIAWT. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
- "Spruce Knob and Spruce Knob Observation Tower". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2014-02-13.
- Spruce Knob Lake Campground
- Spruce Knob and Spruce Knob Observation Tower
- "FR 104 road paving". U.S. Forest Service. 2001. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- "FR 112 road paving". U.S. Forest Service. 2008. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- "Monongahela National Forest: Hiking - Seneca Creek Backcountry & Gandy Creek Area". GORP. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
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