The goal of this weekend was to hit up the highpoints of PA, MD, and WV. The original plan was to leave NYC and hike Mt Davis, PA and Backbone Mtn, MD on Friday, then hike Spruce Knob, WV and drive to Pittsburgh on Saturday, then Sunday to do some site seeing and catch a Pirates game (I’m trying to visit every MLB ballpark) before driving back to NYC. While this exact plan never came to fruition there was still plenty of adventure and memories to be had.
Friday (PA & MD)
We woke up around 5:30am and hopped in my car and drove the 6 hours or so to Mt. Davis. I think we took a wrong turn and ending up driving up the wrong side of the mountain on a gravel road for quite some time. However that did lead us to this scenic overlook. Also we saw a trailhead that said 5miles to Mt Davis so that is worth investigating for someone looking for longer hike. To get there from 219 follow signs for Mt Davis summit and turn on that road but then drive past the turn to summit and you’ll
see the overlook, keep going a couple miles I think and it’ll be marked trailhead on your left.
Anyways we parked in the parking lot and took the not strenuous 0.7 mile trail to summit.
Ran into an older couple who we would see again in Maryland. Climbed the tower looked around, checked out the odd monument thingys, posed on a rock, and went back to car.
Driving the back roads towards Maryland we passed an abnormal amount of churches per the amount of houses I saw. They all had witty sayings on their boards such as, “Warning get exposure to the Son or you’ll burn”. We stopped for lunch at some biker tavern on a lake where I got a fried cod sandwich and made it to MD trailhead sometime later. Starting hiking the 1.5m trail I could feel the cod in my belly, luckily the hike is very easy. We got to an area that I actually thought was the summit, there is this nice triangle monument you see. But that is not it. We luckily spotted a sign and continued on. The summit is nice there is a picnic table, birdhouse, and a monument thing. They are also nice enough to put a post for you to put your camera on to take timed photo of yourselves. Hence this shot. Perfect weather and Highpoint #2 of the day.
We started driving south towards Spruce Knob. We stopped in the little town of Thomas, WV and went to the Purple Fiddle for a few beers. This place is awesome and certainly worth a stop. You can get local WV Mountain State Brewing beers and they have live music, and it looks like decent food. We were there at weird time and were the only patrons except for a gentleman who was finger picking his guitar on the porch. The town was impossibly quiet but the weather was beautiful and it was one of those great scenes that is the reason I enjoy highpointing so much finding these rare
gems in places I would never normally go. We then drove south and stayed at Caanan Valley Resort in Davis WV which I think is closest place you can stay to Spruce Knob coming from this direction.
Saturday (The Waste)
The next day since we wanted to hike and then drive to Pittsburgh we had to wake bright and early. We were in car by 5:30am and heading towards Spruce Knob, when all of a sudden every light on my dash lit up, smoke from the hood, power steering gone, and the car was in danger of overheating. Zero cell phone reception obviously. We pulled into first gas station we could which was like 10 miles away and we had to keep pulling over so car would overheat and explode. We asked for a mechanic and they told us a man named Butcher has a place 5 miles down road and they think he’s open Saturdays. They said that time of morning he’s hangs out at Travelmart which is another gas station so they call there and sure enough Butcher is there and says he’ll be at his shop at 8am. We drive to his shop (the description we got was, “head on down the road a ways and look for beige building with no sign and lots of junk cars out front” we get there and sit in car for 2hours until at 8:01am when Butcher and his unnamed assistant show up. They are very nice with thick West Virginian accents that I didn’t always understand and they told us several times “you’re a long way from home”. I was super nervous because if this was serious car trouble I didn’t want to be stranded and I drive a BMW and that’s not really a prevalent type of vehicle here so depending on the part I could very well be stuck. It turned out just to be a belt so
Butcher sent his wife 45 miles away to pick up the spare. It took pretty much all day to get fixed. I slept in the shade of an old tractor tire for a few hours, smoked a cigar, walked to travelmart for cup of worse
coffee ever. We had to cancel the Pittsburgh part of trip which makes me sad as that is supposedly one of the nicest ball parks in country. Here is some instagrams of this wasted day.
Eventually car was fixed and we decided to drive to Franklin, WV because that seemed closer to the mountain to stay the night (about 55 minutes versus 1hr 15 from Caanan Valley). We found the Star Hotel which doesn’t look great from outside but was pretty nice, rooms clean and staff friendly, and the food in restaurant was decent.
Woke again at 5am and headed to Spruce Knob. We decided on the 16mile round-trip Lumberjack Trail to Huckleberry trail because if you’re going to come all the way here you may as well hike something rather than drive up and spend more time in the car. We parked at Lumberjack trailhead which is well marked, with parking area that fits 5 cars about.
The 1st 3 miles are almost completely flat, I think you gain 200ft. Then you join the Huckleberry trail which is marked with a nice sign, we stopped here for breakfast.
This is 5 miles to summit with a couple sections of small elevation gain. We again had absolutely perfect weather and we only ran into one soul on the trail and didn’t stop to speak a howdy and tip of the cap was all that was given. This is a nice trail that opens up into a few meadows and then pine sections.
As you get near the top there is several nice camping spots in cleared out pine areas; there is a bunch of them in fact and they all look identical and you’ll think you’ve found a glitch in the matrix but rest assured eventually you get to the parking area and join those who drove up to the squat tower of the summit.
At top we met up with a Korean couple who spoke no English but agreed to take this photo. How did I know they were Korean? well when we were posing for photo the woman told us to say “kimchee” (which effectively does same thing to mouth as saying cheese) and for those who haven’t eaten Korean food before kimchee is a chili rubbed fermented cabbage that they eat with every meal. I personally love it and my mouth salivated the 8 mile hike back to car. This is an easy hike with brief rest for breakfast and snacks and pictures at summit total time was just over 6 hours for 16 miles. If you wanted to jog you could do even faster and I saw mountain bike tire marks so that would be even faster, at least on way down. Parts of trail were overgrown and I was happy in pants. We then hopped in car for long ride back to NYC. We stopped in Harrisonburg, VA to eat at a brewpub as I’m always on look out for new beers, this is a cool little college town. Driving through Pennsylvania tons of people were setting up blankets on side of highway as though for a show and we googled all sorts of things and never found out what it was but it stretched for about 200 miles. We eventually made it home after about 7 and a half hours of driving that was a real long day. But that’s what I signed up for, when I started this highpointing hobby.