by Caitlin Finnerty
August 28, 2012
Most people don't associate rock climbing with the Chesapeake Bay, but the sport's biggest fans will tell you that the Bay watershed is home to the only "true peak" on the East Coast of the United States (meaning it is only accessible by 'true' rock climbing techniques).
Image courtesy RoyJr/Flickr
Almost 200 miles from the Bay Program’s offices in Annapolis, Md., the formation known as "Seneca Rocks" hovers above Seneca Creek at its confluence with the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River.
While Seneca Rocks attract climbers from all over the East coast, the 19-mile Seneca Creek is known for another sport: trout fishing. The creek is listed on Trout Unlimited's "top 100 trout streams." Cool, shaded, spring-fed creeks like the Seneca are perfect for eastern brook trout, a species that can survive only in waters below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, the Seneca flows through heavily forested land, where trees shade the water and keep it cool for these fish.
Image courtesy Lonecellotheory/Flickr
This heavily forested land is the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area in the Monongahela National Forest, a 24,000 acre wilderness area that is pristine enough to attract an influx of solitude-seeking backpackers each summer and house an endangered species - the Cheat Mountain salamander.
While Seneca Creek flows through federal lands, its watershed is constantly threatened by developers and natural gas drillers. The Wilderness Society and local activist groups successfully petitioned the Bureau of Land Management this March, preventing natural gas drilling leases within a designated wilderness area.
More from Seneca Creek:
Visit Boggs Mill, a historic grist mill (a mill that turns grain into flour) that was built in 1830. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Follow blueberry bushes along the Eastern Continental Divide, look for Seneca Creek's underground pools, and climb to magnificent vistas: Find your own hike, or follow along with this one from Backpacker Magazine.
Gaze into the darkest skies east of the Mississippi River. Visit the Spruce Knob Visitor's Center's observatory or for consider camping somewhere in the forest!
Have you visited Seneca Creek- either as a trout fisherman or a rock climber, or maybe something else? Or maybe you are waiting for the right time to visit. Tell us about your experience (or your proposed trip) in the comments below!
Image courtesy dancingnomad3/Flickr