The Alleghenies of West Virginia

My goodness, there isn’t a straight, level road in all of eastern West Virginia! It takes forever to get from Point A to Point B – more hills and hollers than in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia combined!! Or so it seemed to us. But such beautiful country, it was worth the winding drives and slow progress to Blackwater Falls State Park in the northeast corner of the state. And we got to see the unique rock spine of Tuscarora sandstone that is the pride of Seneca Rock Park, along the way.

So different from the Appalachian range, the Allegheny hills are gorgeous in their own right.
So different from the Appalachian range, the Allegheny hills are gorgeous in their own right.
This is actually called Germany Valley, and it makes sense. Looks a lot like southern Bavaria.
This is actually called Germany Valley, and it makes sense. Looks a lot like southern Bavaria.
This is Seneca Falls, and the jagged-toothed sandstone outcropping showcased there.
This is Seneca Falls, and the jagged-toothed sandstone outcropping showcased there.

Blackwater Falls is highly rated for beauty, and the ratings don’t lie. We hiked to the lower and upper lookout platforms, as well as the ridge trail along the gorge – it’s almost like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison for the eastern US. A deep gorge in the sandstone has been carved by the Blackwater River over millennia, and we who are familiar with the reddish-brown water of the Tahquamenon River of Upper Michigan know that this is caused by the tannins of oak and fir trees leaching into the river – same deal here. Gigantic rhododendron bushes cling to the gorge walls, reveling in the water spray from the falls.

Layered sandstone, awash in the spray.
Layered sandstone, awash in the spray.
Blackwater Falls at its lowest flow point.
Blackwater Falls at its lowest flow point.
Huge rhododendron and conifers on the canyon walls
Huge rhododendron and conifers on the canyon walls
Steep canyon downriver from the falls.
Steep canyon downriver from the falls.

From the number of private resorts and campgrounds outside the park, we’re guessing this area is West Virginia’s #1 tourist attraction for in-staters and those in neighboring states. Horseback riding, hang gliding, zip lines, winter skiing, boating/kayaking. Development has been done in a way that doesn’t mar the natural beauty, though. Kudos to West Virginia.

 

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