For a couple of years, I’ve been exploring the wonders of North Fork Mountain in West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains. This hidden gem, while close to other well known sites has visitation levels far far less. This can be accounted for by it’s difficulty in access coupled with little knowledge of its attractions.
However, North Fork Mountain may be one of the most geologically and biologically significant sites on the East Coast. It is host to Seneca Rocks, nearby caves, 4,000’+ elevations, and and an impressive rock face along it’s spine. Biologically, it supports one of the driest areas East of the Mississippi, in addition to cool weather species commonly found in the in boreal forest and subarctic regions.
For the past couple of years, I have been attempting to capture the beauty of these incredible sites, but it hasn’t been easy. Many of the most unique sites are located 1500′ to 2500′ above the valley floor with little to no road access. If there is road access, then it is often a bumpy dirt track on private property.
This July 4th I was given access to one of the unique sites by a private land owner. Wanting to take advantage of this, instead of sleeping in, I awoke at 1:00am and made the trek Westward deep into the Alleghenies for sunrise. The drive wasn’t easy, navigating numerous unsigned ‘lightly maintained’ bumpy dirt roads in the dark. However, once I arrived at the summit, I felt like I was awarded with one of the most awe inspiring views on the East Coast. Coupled with that, I had the view all to myself.
With blue and purple mountains off in the distance, the scene seemed like a verse from “America the Beautiful.” This coupled with the vastness of the space, made it feel like I was in the right place to celebrate our freedom on the morning of July 4th.