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North Fork Mountain Trail (WV) March 19- 20
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Anyone interested in backpacking WV's best trail?
I have not hiked this trail, but every time I've been to Monongahele NF, I have driven by the ridge of North Fork Mountain that the trail traverses. It looks really wesome up there. I was in WV a month ago with MarkO and he was talking about how great the trail is and how awesome the scenery is. My appetite was immediately enticed. I got the Hart guide book for xmas and been salivating ever since.
The trip is still a few weeks away. I'd like to keep the group size limit to 10 people. The trail difficulty level is rated moderate (but I believe it's onthe strenuous side of moderate). The trail is very rocky and follows along the side of many high cliffs at the top of the ridge line. Strong backpackers are only encouraged to sign up as we will be covering pretty good distances each day (10-15 miles) and the trail has scarse water sources, thus we will need to allow extra wt for water.
The trail has many highlights, including a view of Seneca Rocks and Chimney Rocks. There are tons of rock out croppings and vistas and neat rock formations.
Hikers are strongly encouraged to stay on the trail due to the harsh environment along the crest of the ridge creates fragile vegitation. When going off trail to a vista, they ask that you rock hop instead of trampling the veg.
I think this is going to be fun. I hope someone familiar with the trail will sign up. I'm not sure where the good camping spot is half way along the trail.
The trip is posted, if'n you're interested, please sign up and please feel free to make suggestions.
“I think we will start at the southern end and hike north. We will have to shuttle vehicles to either end. It looks like there is a place to camp near the trailhead at the northern end if anyone wants to camp Friday night.
The trail is 24 miles long and elevation ranges from 1000 feet to 3800 feet.”
from backpacker magazine
“Monongahela National Forest
Classic eastern mountain scenery along West Virginia's skyline pathway.
By Ad Crable, July 2000
Little-Known Fact: The famous Seneca Trail in the Monogahela National Forest followed the Potomac River, once linking the Algonquin, Tuscarora, and Seneca Native American tribes.
I first walked the crest of West Virginia's North Fork Mountain Trail 20 years ago as part of a college lark. In all its autumn grandeur, I thought it was the most beautiful place on Earth, so wild, remote, untrammeled, diverse, and pulsating with foliage that it overloaded the senses.
Now, one fine October day two decades later, I have returned, cringing at the possibility that the high-mountain pathway has been spoiled or that my memories had greatly exaggerated reality.
I can happily report that this mountaintop trail in the Monongahela National Forest is still as good as mountain country gets in the East. (By the way, if you're wondering how to pronounce Monongahela -- and who isn't? -- it's moh-NON-ga-HEE-la, with the accent on the second and fourth syllables.)
The fairly flat trail is ideal for those seeking the perfect overlook, because each tabletop rock outcropping provides an even more stunning vista than the last. Linger at sunset and you can watch as the horizon fades to soft pink.
Don't get caught up in all the viewpoints and miss what's under your nose, though. North Fork Mountain, along with the Smoke Hole Canyon on the eastern spine of the mountain, was recently highlighted by the Nature Conservancy as one of the most remarkable natural areas in the eastern United States. The mountain plays host to a dizzying assemblage of rare plants and animals.
The trail winds along the lee side of the mountain rim cliffs. But wander 100 yards or less from the rim and the world becomes one of roaring wind and gnarled pines that are missing branches on their windward sides. They scent the air with the sweet, slightly dry smell of fallen needles. Except for the lack of water, the entire length of the 24-mile North Fork Mountain Trail is ideal for a two- or three-day backpacking trip. Elevation ranges between 3,000 and 3,795 feet, with some small saddles and moderately difficult knobs. For those with cars to shuttle, the blue-blazed trail can be broken up into two roughly equal 12-mile sections, thanks to a dirt Forest Service road that meets the trail midway. The road is recommended for four-wheel-drive vehicles only.
Monongahela National Forest Potomac Ranger District Route 3, Box 240 Petersburg, WV 26847 304/257-4488”
“This looks very cool! I was planning a Harriman trip for the weekend before, but I might scrap it and jump on this one.”
“there is a road that crosses the halfway mark of the trail. We can drop a cashe of water there or even leave a vehicle with a cashe of water.”
“Hmm 512 miles from my house. If I can swing this would you be going down on Friday? Anyone interested in Car pooling?”
“you could meet up with me in York, PA and we can head down the rest of the way in my car. That would cut out half of the drive for you. I'm going to head down after work Friday night. Probably leave there around 5ish and it's a 4 hour drive. I'll camp at the northern trailhead.”
“It's about a six hour ride for me, that would prolly mean taking Fri off. I'm gonna work on it.
last edited: 1/15/05 11:56:57 AM”
“it will be a pretty good amount of driving for a lot of us, but it will be worth it. This trail is pretty amazing. When you look up at the ridge that it crosses, you can just tell that it is a quality trail. The only thing I am worried about it the lack of water, but I think we can work that out. I wonder if we'll have any winter conditions up in the higher elevations at that time. Probably not, but never know.”
“March is still winter there.”
“Hmm average high for Seneca Rocks High of 56* and a low of 29* This is in town not on the mountains.”
it's a great hike....
“i went with buddur, buddha bear, skullcap, and met HOI along the trail in november of 01....we went up to view the meteor showers....one of the best trips i've ever been on....
here's a link to that thread....
“yeah, I'm pretty stoked about it. Did anyone take any picutes on that trip?”
last edited: 1/15/05 2:46:28 PM”
“Great choice! This is prolly one of my favorite trails to hike. The views rock, you rarely run into people on it, and it's a well kept secret. Here are some observations though:
1. You definately need to stash water at the halfway point. A good spot is near the power lines on the winding road up to the ridge.
2. Personally, I'd go from South to North. The climb from N-S is a pretty good one, and you could burn thru a good amount of water pretty fast. Also, it makes more sense becuase of the time contraints. By the time you get there, shuttle water to the top, turn back, park a vehicle at the other end of the trail, and then drive back to start, you've gone thru a good part of a day. On the Southern approach, there is virtually no climb, but all ridgeline, so you can pump out 4-5 miles in 1.5 - 2 hours, and then set up camp.
3. Of the three times I've done the trail, I don't think there is a shuttle service. Two times, we parked a return car at one end, the other time, I paid some dude $30 to drive me to my car.
4. Chimney Rock is a great view, and something you'll have to do.
Gonzo is right, we had a blast, and I'll keep this ole doggy in mind for March.... thanks for the invite.
“cool BB, it'd be cool to see you there. Although, I will meet you on FYAO next month. Hope you can make this trip.”
North Knife Mountain Just Doesn't Have That Appeal
“The mountain looks, imo, more like a knife than a fork.”
“whatdoya sat Buddur? Are you coming with us? I have yet to hike with you.”
“I was just looking at some pictures and saw pictures of this trail with a full shroud of snow and the pics were taken in April. It would be pretty cool to have snow.”
“I've been doing some reading about this trail and there are wild goats inthese mountains. interesting.”
“The G & M on the map refer to the declination. G=geologic north, M=magnetic north.
last edited: 1/16/05 1:24:46 PM”
last edited: 1/16/05 2:21:21 PM”
I did this trail MLK weekend last year.
Stashing water is a good idea.
We did not, just carried insane amount of water.
We were able to melt some snow.
South to north is the best.
The southern half is not as nice as the northern.
last edited: 1/16/05 6:35:25 PM”
“you think you'll come with Mark?”
“Hmmmmmmmmm, it's a possibility !!
I have not made a plan yet for March.”
“you have to come. Afterall, it was our conversation on the way back that was the origin of the trip.”
“dang - yall are making me want to do this trip.”
“it's about time you come east Roam. I'm not so sure I'll be able to go west. I'll have to jump onto a western trip at some point. I won't be able to plan one of my own.”
......mere moments ago
last edited: 1/16/05 8:41:42 PM”
“well, i'd really like to - i love WV.
but chances are really slim that I'll be able to.”
“sweet.. I like hiking with you Mark. Hiking in West Virginia would not be the same with out you.”
“Alright, I hope you rest-up and get well my friend.
Take care of those lungs.”
“I need to be feeling better asap. I have a cold weather trip coming up this weekend in the Catskills.”
“I had dang-near-pneumonia in October.
Everything is in good working order now.”
“Now we need to get JO out of the classroom and onto the trail for this trip.”
“think we will see snow in March on this trail. Looks like the trail gets with in 125 feet of 4k.”
“JO and his kid were in that party last January.
This trail is pretty rocky, it sure gives my soles hell.”
“It's on my radar. Backslacker, is my crystal ball correct in showing a carpool for me in this trip, or is the dang thing broken again?”
“This is a good'un, I promise that much. The verdict is that the scenery is awesome regardless of visibility. Hope you can make it Souldude!”
“Last year we were watching a snow storm on Dolly Sods to our west and higher as we hiked north with little or no snow on us.”
“wow, I bet that looked cool. When we were in Deep Gap in the Blacks last October we could see snow falling but it wasn't hitting us in the gap. When we got upon the Peaks there was some snow though.”
“Magic 8 ball says...All signs point to yes. I still want to do Harriman, I just hafta space trips out.”
“I'm in ! Nice , Done Chimmney Rocks and Climb Seneca Rock every 2 years now for the last 10 years. I live in Virginia now but am originally from West Virginia.
I have solo for many years and lately been hooking up with other Backpackers and am experiencing a second wind. Thanks EarthNsky
for the invitation. Fridge”
“this will be fun for sure. We should have a nice view of Seneca Rocks down below on this trip.”
“Looks great, thanks for the invite, but I'll be on vacation with my favorite lady that weekend.”
“Like ENS I'd driven by this trail for years and read about alot about it but never done it until last January.
I'd say it's up there in my top ten all-time hikes. The scenery is beautiful, rolling along the ridge with views to the east or west or both. It's not that it's rough....just long. Grinds the shoe-leather. It was cold as can be up there and of course there was no water.
Yup, south to north would be best and a water cache would be just swell. Carrying all that water was rough.
I'll keep this trip in mind.”
“sorry for the excessive abouts there....Monday morning.
“I've hiked in from the south end at night.
A "night-drop" and commando hike would be a good way to get a jump on things.”
“I'm really excited about this trip. I hope we have some snow. I wish it were sooner.”
“The southern end is on private property from what I read. Is camping ok there? Are there good places to camp about a mile in on the trail? That might be a good idea to start Friday night and hike in and get a head start since we'll be covering quite a bit of mileage Saturday and Sunday. I don't want to miss any good views though, not like this trail has a shortage of them though. It sounds like it is mega view city the entire length of the trail.”
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