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Seneca Rocks

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About Seneca Rocks:

Open all year... well, okay, it's West Virginia and you really get about seven months of great climbing, if you are lucky, split between fall and spring.... BUT the Rocks are in fact open to the public year-round; no fees, no permits, no registration required.

Two free parking areas; one at the Visitor's Center, just south of the "Y" (phones located here) and the older lots and picnic grounds N of the Y intersection. Although the northern lots have picnic tables and bathrooms (pit toilets), they are closed in the winter, and subject to touron infestation in the more popular summer months. If you stay at Yokum's or Shadows of Seneca, camp is 20 minutes' walk from the crag, tops.

Seneca Rocks is famous for moderate multipitch traditional routes as well as being the WWII training ground for the Army's 10th Mountain Division. A host of the sport's early pioneers cut their teeth or left their mark here, chasing trad lines against the West Virginia sky. Drawn by their challenge, the remote setting and the superb quality of routes and stone, successive generations of great climbers have passed this way as will the stars and pioneers of the future, without a doubt.

The Rocks are a staggered set of enormous Tuscarora sandstone fins protruding 300ft above the scree. The summit of the South Peak, a mere 10ft wide, is reputed to be one of the tallest requiring technical climbing on the east coast, rising almost 900 feet above the valley floor. Seneca's relentlessly vertical routes have a (deserved) reputation for being stiff for the grade and almost invariably offer wild exposure. NOTE TO NOOBS: ALWAYS BRING WIND gear

When it's all over and done (for the day, anyway...), stop in at the Gendarme, just behind Harper's Store in the Seneca "Y". This is a great place to hire a guide or instructor, stock up on tape, chalk and gear, and/or learn some history of the area. John Markwell, the original proprietor and first person to open a climbing shop at the Rocks (the original shop was in a van) has since sold the shop to new owners, but those of who remember him will always see him there, and you just might, too. John is usually found presiding over the front porch of the shop or re-educating newcomers inside. The message board located there is a great way to hook up with your partners, report hazards, or look for lost gear.

(If you're in the mood for a funny story, ask him about the night Mike Gray skiied down the steps from the restaurant with two pizzas... sans skis or snow.)

Down and still itchin' to crank? Head over for one last burn on Tom Cecil's climbing wall, where you can also get gear, guiding, instruction and beta of superb quality.

If you're looking for a single campsite, group accomodations, or RV hook-up, grab a shower and kick back in the Shadows of Seneca, the NFS campground located on the ridge directly behind the Genderme. To reach the entrance, drive east on Rte 33 from the "Y", look for the entrance, about half a mile down on the W side of the road. Find your site and then check-in with the camp host in the Amphitheater.

Yearning for a real bed, some privacy, and a space of your own? Try Princess Snowbird campground, with individual suites or private cabins. The campground entrance is located N of the "Y", just beyond the bridge, on the left. Chill by the creek or gather under the pavilion to enjoy the scenery or watch other climbers at play on West Virginia's Great Lady.

Whichever space you settle in for the evening, do yourself a favor. Wander over to that group of beta-spewing maniacs and introduce yourself... they're climbers, too, and at Seneca, many of us are family. The climbing community only survives if we keep reaching out, creating bridges, keeping the lines open.

Nearest town or city: Seneca
Directions: From the east (Harrisonburg, Virginia/I-81/I-64), driving distance is about 67 miles, and takes about an hour and a half. The roads are winding and heavily used by not only tourists and commuters, but by a number of construction, logging, and poultry rigs as well. They cross several mountain ranges and through the drive road width and conditions vary. In other words, no matter how many times you saw "The Fast and the Furious", don't push it, or they'll be adding you to the statistics of "Stupid Out-of-state Drivers Killed in WV".

Take Rte 33 West, through Brandywine and Franklin (watch your speed in Franklin- they're SERIOUS about the speed limits!) Turn left at the Exxon on the NW side of Franklin, to follow Rte 33W across Judy Gap (with numerous bold leads, long since done, available on small but diamond-hard towers of stone on the N side of the road) and drop into Germany Valley, passing the turn-off South to Circleville and Nelson Rocks (another incredible crag, now a privately owned commercial climbing venture.). Continue along 33W for another 13.9 miles, through Riverton (bank/ATM, convenience store) to Seneca.

Park in the NFS Seneca Rocks vistor center lot and follow the north peak tourist trail. A few hundred yards after crossing the river a signposted climbers' trail branches to the right and meets Roy Gap Road. Follow the road to the gap between the rock fins. Signs indicate trails to the various faces.

Latitude, Longitude:
Access Issues:
Camping: Yes
When to Climb:
Quantity of Climbs: Year


SequenceSequence numbers indicate the left (L) to right (R) order of the routes. Rating Route Difficulty Ascents
Average Rating = 3.67/5 Candy Corner 5.5 3

Topo Images

Orange Aid
No route specified Drop Zone
Ye Gods and Little Fishes

Forum Discussions (See all 64 posts )

  Subject Author Replies Last Post
No Replies Guide Services gprice9347 0 Mar 27 2018, 6:22 PM
No Replies Shadows of Seneca is STILL OPEN... roninthorne 0 Oct 10 2013, 3:27 PM
With Replies New Climbers looking for top roping aacaligiuri 4 Oct 11 2013, 1:21 PM
With Replies Seneca Rocks Green Wall? Marylandclimber 6 Jul 23 2013, 1:29 PM
With Replies Body found at Seneca Rocks? climboard 8 Oct 12 2012, 3:38 PM
No Replies Conditions In Late March ZeroContent 0 Oct 28 2011, 4:07 PM
With Replies Orange Aid - is the flake on? david_n_raines 5 Jul 22 2011, 7:45 AM
With Replies Seneca Accident 4/9/11 - 4/10/11 dreday3000 15 Jun 10 2011, 11:23 AM
With Replies climbing seneca dec-jan smartmonkey 9 Dec 23 2010, 2:52 PM
With Replies Red BD Cam jackwill 1 Aug 10 2010, 1:23 PM
No Replies LOST camera @ Seneca Rocks brent_e 0 Aug 04 2010, 10:39 PM
No Replies Seneca route beta hyhuu 0 Apr 22 2010, 12:49 PM
With Replies Weather- boring post i know, but very important for me :) mttgross 5 Mar 10 2010, 5:50 PM
With Replies looking for partner in dec-jan @ seneca smartmonkey 2 Dec 02 2009, 2:40 AM
With Replies Gear for pitch 1 of Soler? rockandlice 18 Oct 30 2009, 11:15 PM