This is the tenth episode of my trips to visit as many of the fifty US States’ highest points. In chapter nine we looked at the trip I took in August of 2019 to Utah and the Dakotas. This time it’s one long day in the spring of 2017 in the central Appalachians.
I started the day in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I had spent the night here on my way to a meeting in Harrisburg, Pa. My goal was to get all three states in one day and make it by nightfall to Harrisburg. At 6am I jumped in the car and started up US 33 to my first stop, Spruce Knob, West Virginia.
Located about 70 miles west of Harrisonburg, Spruce Knob is 4,863 feet above sea level. A state park and access road make the peak very accessible. This was, however, the first day of Spring and no one had told that to the high elevation snow that was still on the last mile or so of the approach road. You park your car in a nearby lot and walk the last quarter mile to a pavilion that sits on the high point.
The snow here was about six inches deep and getting to the lot was fun, but my all-wheel drive Rav4 managed to make it up. I hiked over a snowy trail to the high point, took the photos and didn’t spend much more time on top. It was cold, windy and I still had two more peaks. The high point is located on private property, but the owners are cool to the fact they own the high spot and let the folks put up a marker and registry.
It was now about 8:30am and I still had to drive north to my next stop, the Maryland high point, about 60 miles north on West Virginia highways. Early on March 21, 2017, West Virginia became my 25th high point.
On my way to the trail head for Maryland’s high point, you drive past the Seneca Rock scenic area. If you get a chance to check this place out, it looked very interesting. I looked around for a few minutes, but got back on the road to keep to my tight schedule. After a few state highways, I would wind up on US 219 and the town of Silver Lake, West Virginia.
Hoye-Crest, Maryland’s high point is just yards into Maryland from the West Virginia line. You park your car along US 219 and hike up an old logging road towards the state line as you climb the 3,360-foot peak. After a forty-five-minute walk, you crest the ridge and walk a trail to the marker.
It was raining lightly when I signed the log book, but at least it was snow free. It was also before lunch, so I was still on schedule with one state to go. On March 21st Maryland became my 26th state high point. I walked back to the car, grabbed some lunch and headed north and east to south central Pennsylvania.
It would be a straight run up US 219 about 60 miles to the town of Keyser’s Ridge, Maryland where I would then make my way over the Mt. Davis Natural Area in far south-central Pennsylvania.
It was about 2pm and I was happy to be on schedule for an arrival in Harrisburg by 6. All that was left was to do like I did in West Virginia: drive to a parking
lot and walk the quarter mile to the high point on Mt. Davis. But like West Virginia, the ground here was covered in snow. Unfortunately, it was twice as deep, a foot or more, so my car was not able to drive directly to the parking lot near the marker.
After about an hour of trying, I saw there was a plowed road and lot about a mile from the high point that I could reach through the hiking trail system. About 3pm I started walking down the path in calf-deep snow for the next half hour. I reached the park that contained the high point marker and took my photos about 3:45pm. I had done it!
Three state high points in one day. Now I had to leave the 3,213-foot high-point and walk back in the snow to my car and finish the day 160 miles away in Harrisburg, Pa. On March 21st, Pennsylvania became my 27th state to reach the highest point.
So, we’ve finally caught up to where I am on my journey, 41 state high points in the books as of May 2020. My plans for this summer have been shot due to the Covid-19 virus. I was planning on a week-long backpack on the John Muir Trail in California, with a finish on Mt. Whitney. The trip back home was to include a visit to Boundary Peak, Nevada to top off my summer. Those two peaks will have to wait while I try to salvage some sort of visit to one or more of the remaining nine states. Hopefully, I will have a report of a trip somewhere before the next newsletter is out in the fall. Stay safe and have a great summer.