Gaudineer Knob is another of the very high (for WV) peaks along the high upland marked by the Allegheny Front. This is just one of the many peaks in this area near the Cheat Mountain ridgeline. Most of the really high mountains of WV are clustered in this general vicinity. The most amazing feature of Gaudineer Knob is the virgin red spruce forest that clothes its summit. I don't know how it was missed by lumber companies, but it stands as one of the last remaining tracts of such timber.
Quoting from Maurice Brooks' 1965 book, The Appalachians (Series: The Naturalist's America), Illustrated by Lois Darling and Lo Brooks, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, pp 71-72.
"Some years before the Civil War a speculating land company bought a tract
of 69,000 acres (280 km2) on the slope of Shavers Mountain. Their tract fronted for about seven miles (11 km) along the eastern side of the mountain. To survey and mark their holdings the company hired a crew of men who must have found rough going in this wilderness. The crew did a good job, but its chief forgot one thing – the fact that a compass needle points to magnetic, not true north. In this area the angle of declination is about four degrees, a significant source of error on a seven-mile (11 km) front…. An experienced Virginia surveyor, in checking the data, discovered the error but said nothing about it. Presently, however, when the sale was being concluded and the deeds recorded, he brought the error to light, and under a sort of “doctrine of vacancy” claimed the wedge of land left by a corrected survey. His title was established, and he and his heirs found themselves owner of a seven-mile (11 km) strip of forest, aggregating almost 900 acres (3.6 km2). While timber above and below the wedge was cut, this narrow holding was undisturbed. Its thickest end, a fringe of tall spruces on the near horizon, is just east of Gaudineer Tower. From these trees came seed to produce a new forest, a happy result of a hundred-year-old mistake."
Virgin forest remnant.
So we have a clerical error to thank for the preservation of this tiny dab of virgin red spruce forest. Between 1890 and roughly 1920, the entire state of West Virginia was clear cut down to the bare earth. And after the timber barons had completely raped the forests, paper companies set up shop in the state and commenced to buy the scrub that was left, pulping it by the ton and turning it into paper. By the early 1930s the state was pretty much a forestry ruin.
Today the slopes and summits of Shavers Mountain and Gaudineer Knob are covered with a fairly healthy forest of hardwoods (along the mountain's flanks) and spruce/hemlocks farther up the mountain. If for no other reason than to hike into this bit of virgin spruce forest, the peak is worth a visit.
Although there are a number of trails on the mountain, the summit is basically a drive up.
Forest Service road 27A is well maintained and leads right to the summit where there is a gravel parking area, picnic tables, trash receptacles, toilets, and lots of old growth red spruce trees. There are a number of hiking trails below the summit and these are worth checking out.
No red tape. Just drive up.
Summit loop trail.
When To Climb
All year, but heavy snows will block the road from time to time.
Any camping in the area would be primitive sites. This is part of the Gaudineer Knob Scenic Area.
"After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world."
--Oscar Wilde on Absinthe