The Mud Kingdom

A magical place, an independent spirit.

Trip Report: 2020-08 Seneca Rocks, WV and Stephens City, VA

Seneca Rocks is a unique rock formation in the unparalleled beauty and mountains of West Virginia. Come along with me on a day trip through the mountain heart of the state and a neat point of interest on the ride home that’ll take you back to one of the good memories of a time lost to most Americans now.

TypeDay Trip
ActivitiesClimbing, Drive-In Theater, Hiking
Transport3 hours by Car (from DC Chinatown)
⚠ Some rural roads lack cell service, as always, have proper footwear and water in your car. ⚠
ConditionsExcellent weather.
DoggoStayed home ?

I took a young lady on a micro-adventure into the heart of West Virginia. The long but pleasant drive through the state offered beautiful views of the mountains, valleys, and hollers that echo the state’s motto: “montani semper liberi.” ? ok, well, maybe more the unofficial slogan: “wild and wonderful.” Our destination was the world famous Seneca Rocks, a very distinct and unique rock formation (technically a crag) comprised of a series of razorback ridges or fins jutting out of the ground and reaching into the sky.

I included an out-of-season picture from another time to show the rocks from a distance, something I did not do on this trip while driving. The attraction consists of a relatively short, hour long hike up the mountain to an observation platform that gives you great views of the valley. A sign greets you at the top warning you about the dangers of continuing on to the spine of Seneca Rocks itself – please heed this. The ridge is as narrow as 10 feet at times and is completely exposed to wind and potentially lightning strikes. Make sure you pay attention to what you’re doing with your limbs and your body and don’t exceed your comfort should you chose to ignore the sign and continue onto the rocks.

It’s a great place to feel the heartbeat of West Virginia, stop, sit a spell to feel the breeze, and listen to what the mountains have to tell you. On our way back we stopped at a particular roadside barn to buy a pepperoni roll (classic WV high cuisine) and feel quite satisfied that all of our senses were tempered in the mountains.

Heading east, we made a detour toward Stephens City, just north of Front Royal (where you could, optionally just go into Shenadoah National Park to see Skyline drive or hike the waterfalls). We had some pizza in Front Royal that was very reminiscent of the type of pizza common in 80’s east coast pizza places: thinish crust, plenty of sweet sauce that runs straight to the edges, and that bland cheese from your childhood – like old Shakey’s. Overall I found it mediocre with some more need of flavor, but for diehards of that era, you might be extremely pleased and the restaurant itself was very popular and very busy. (Melting Pot Pizza) Sorry, no pictures – it wouldn’t have shown well anyway.

We ended the evening in Emma’s (the name of my car) trunk. With the seats folded down and the help of some pillows, sleeping bag and pads, it made for a great movie watching experience. On screen was Marvel’s The New Mutants – something of a horror flick that I didn’t know about when we pulled up to our spot. After climbing a mountain, this comfortable cocoon helped close out the night. Home was only about an hour and change after the credits rolled.